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.

Clear Lake Chatter: Mayors Update BayTran on a Variety of Topics

July 1st, 2018

BayTran Chairman David Hamilton, left, Binkley & Barfield executive vice president, welcomes League City Mayor Pat Hallisey, center, and Pearland Mayor Tom Reid to the Bay Area Houston Transportation Partnership luncheon at the Marriott South Hotel.

THE MAYORS of League City and Pearland often attend the monthly luncheons hosted by the Bay Area Houston Transportation Partnership, so why not let them be the program and give an update on their Harvey problems?

Both Mayor Tom Reid of Pearland and Mayor Pat Hallisey of League City thought it was a good idea and presented quite an interesting program that all appeared to enjoy.

After briefly focusing on Hurricane Harvey, the conversation changed to transportation with Mayor Hallisey recalling that his city of 110,000+ had only 5,000 residents when he moved there, going on to talk about how transportation had played a big role in the city’s rapid growth, even back in 1893 when Kansas Street was formed. Forty-eight percent of the city’s land is still undeveloped, he added.

Mayor Reid then remembered back when his city of 135,000 plus had only 3,000 folks in 1965. Today it is the 33rd largest city in Texas, he said, the fifth safest city in the state and the third largest in land area – 48 square miles. More than 9,000 work at the Texas Medical Center, he said, adding, “Mobility has been a blessing.”

“We’ve focused on transportation and maintaining a quality lifestyle,” he explained, added that Pearland was spread over three counties and he expected it wouldn’t be long before the population topped the 200,000 mark. But before it ended, their thoughts turned to money, or the lack thereof, to build roads to carry all these people to work, to school and to the grocery store.

Volunteers Ann Wismer Landolt, Katie Jones, Chairman Wendy Drapela and Karen Keesler line up for a photo as guests begin arriving for the Las Vegas dining event. Photo by Jill Reason

Festival off to a happy start
LUNAR RENDEZVOUS is moving right along so fast we can hardly keep up with it. Already the Golf Tournament, Spa Night and Lunar Las Vegas are history as we prepare for the next round of events.

First event in July will be the Sunset Service at 6 p.m. Sunday, July 15 at the Clear Creek Community Church on Egret Bay Boulevard between Clear Lake and League City.

Next, comes the Down to the Derby Fashion Show, starting at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 17 at the San Luis Convention Center overlooking the Gulf of Mexico in Galveston.

Then the gala conclusion of the festival – the Coronation Ball, which has an Arabian Nights theme and starts at 5 p.m. Saturday, July 21 also at the San Luis Convention Center.

HELPING OTHERS WAS NEVER SO MUCH FUN!

FASHION SHOW luncheons are always enjoyable, but so much more fun when everyone knows their enjoyment is going to bring joy to others, as did this year’s Dogs & Divas.

Held at South Shore Harbour Resort, proceeds will benefit both the Bay Area Turning Point and its partnership with Friends of League City Animal Shelter that led to their forming Safe Paws, which provides a safe place for the pets of those seeking shelter from abusive situations.

And, what could be more charming than both lovely ladies and wide-eyed pooches coming down the runway in fashionable outfits? Yes, one slightly embarrassed pooch even wore a multi-color lace skirt!

Carla Medlenka, BATP Board chairman, and Leigh Ann Fry, the new BATP president, welcomed the crowd and introduced TV Ch. 11 anchor Lisa Hernandez, who served as emcee for the show, after the invocation by Pastor Brad Heintz. Later, Ralph Kramer got the place humming as he conducted the auction.

Clear Lake Chatter: A happy farewell for NASA chief

June 1st, 2018

JSC Director Ellen Ochoa presents the National Space Trophy to now retired Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot during the RNASA Gala. RNASA photo

NATIONAL SPACE Trophy winner Robert Lightfoot ended his long NASA career on a perfect note with some 800 admirers giving him a grand sendoff at the RNASA Space Gala. Besides retiring from the space agency, Johnson Space Center Director Dr. Ellen Ochoa presented him with a beautiful trophy for his mantel.

“The many leadership roles that Robert Lightfoot has held and excelled at over his entire aerospace career made him the ideal person to lead NASA during the last 15 months,” she said as she handed him the prestigious trophy.

The former acting NASA administrator looked upon it as “the pinnacle of recognition in our business. This is the biggest award you could bestow on me, but really it is for the entire team and what we do. And, what we do every day makes a difference.”

After the welcome by RNASA Foundation Chairman Rodolfo Gonzalez, other highlights included the presentation by NASA’s Cindy Steele of the Space Communicator Award by video to actor William Shatner of Star Trek fame, a video congratulatory message to Lightfoot from NASA astronauts Scott Tingle, Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold on the Space Station, a Space City Films year-in-review film featuring CNN’s John Zarrella and the presentation by astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson of the Stellar Awards to 29 individuals and 8 teams,

RNASA Chairman Rodolfo Gonzalez and his wife, Anangela, wear big smiles as they look over the massive crowd at the 2018 space gala.

Looking around the Hyatt Regency Ballroom, you might have spotted former NASA Administrators Michael Griffin and and Gen. Charles Bolden; Glenn Research Center Director Dr. Janet Kavandi, acting NASA Associate Administrator Stephen Jurcyk, retired Johnson Space Center Director Mike Coats, and three other former Space Trophy winners — Eileen Collins, Glynn Lunney and Tommy Holloway taking their seats.

The guest list read like a Who’s Who in the space industry and included JSC Deputy Director Mark Geyer, Associate Director Dr. George Nield, Space Station Program Manager Kirk Shireman, External Relations Director Deborah Conder, Safety Director Terry Wilcutt, Flight Operations Director Brian K. Kelly, Deputy CFO Sidney Schmidt and NASA Orion Program Manager Mark Kirasich – many with their spouses.

Other space luminaries included a number of astronauts such as Chief Astronaut Patrick Forrester and Mark Polansky, along with former astronauts — Texas A&M at Galveston COO Michael Fossum and Orbital ATK Systems Group President Frank Culbertson and Gen. Tom Stafford.

Boeing’s Houston Site Leader and ISS Program Manager Mark Mulqueen was in the crowd, as were Barrios Technologies Chairman Sandy Johnson and President Robert McAfoos, Jacobs Vice President Lon Miller, Blue Orgin President Rob Meyerson, KBR Wyle Senior VP Dr. Vernon McDonald and VP Genie Bopp, MEI Technologies CEO David Cates and Alpha Space Test President Mark Gittleman.

Plus, Bastion biggies Mike and Jorge Hernandez and COO Jay Ramakrishnan, UTC Aerospace Leader Allen Flynt, SAIC Vice President Charlie Stegemoeller, Lockheed Martin Orion Deputy Director Larry Price, MRI President and VP Debbie and Tim Kropp, Axiom Space President Mike Suffredini, ERC Partner Darryl Smith and Sierra Nevada Corp. Vice President Mark Sirangelo.

RNASA Foundation and Rotarians in the mix included RNASA Vice President Bill Taylor, John Branch, Bob Wren, Delia Stephens, Geoff Atwater, Frank Perez, Rich Jackson, Randy Straach, Mark Hollis, Duane Ross, Steve Oglesbee, Gary Johnson and their spouses.

Museum Guild members Louise Russell, Jan Larson, Belinda Scheurich and Ava Galt, from left, who put in many hours working on the annual Silver Tea, wear big smiles as the crowd begins arriving at the museum in Clear Lake Park.

Silver Tea honors Brandie Corrao
BAY AREA MUSEUM was nearly overflowing Sunday, May 6 as the Museum Guild hosted the 33rd annual Silver Tea, which was founded in 1985 so local families could come together to experience a favorite British custom.

Many cooked their favorite sweets and savories to share with the crowd, which included the Lunar Rendezvous princesses and lieutenants and their mothers, along with Museum Guild members and their families.

Silver Tea Chairman Terri Monette was at the door to introduce the arriving crowd to this year’s honoree, Brandie Corrao, who was selected for her dedication to the museum. Nearby, you might have spotted Peggy Clause and Sandi Allbritton were busy complimenting Marjy Fulton on the beautiful tea cups she has made annually for the guild to sell at the tea.

In no time, the museum began to fill with Matthew and Angie Weinman and Joy and Charles Smitherman in the arriving crowd, along with Emmeline Dodd and Gene Hollier, Annette Dwyer and her husband, Pat Monks, Mary Williams, Diana Dornak, Adrienne Sun, Mary Ann Baxter and Laura Sukkar.

Some of the others out enjoying the afternoon included Museum Guild Co-Presidents Ava Galt and Carole Murphy, Jill Smitherman, Jill Williams Lammers, Barb Spencer, Cindy Kuenneke, Louise Russell, Gayle Nelson, Marcy Fryday, Sally Jordan and Jan Larson.

Houston Symphony League Bay Area officers for 2018 will include, from left, Historian Pat Biddle, President Nina McGlashan, Parliamentarian Lisa Clobanu and Corresponding Secretary Jean Raffetto. They were installed May 9 at their Bay Oaks Country Club luncheon. Recording Secretary Gayle Nelson and Nomination Chairman Mary Voigt are absent from the picture.

Symphony League elects new officers
NINA McGLASHAN is the new president of the Houston Symphony League Bay Area, which enjoys bringing beautiful music to the community and focuses on music education for elementary students in the Clear Creek School District.

She’ll have six vice presidents lending a hand during the coming year — Carole Murphy, finance; Jim Moore, education; Patience Myers, development; Martha McWilliams, programs; Ann Morgan, membership; and President-elect Vicki Buxton.

Other officers will be Recording Secretary Gayle Nelson, Corresponding Secretary Jean Raffetto, Historian Pat Biddle, Nomination Chairman Mary Voigt and Parliamentarian Lisa Clobanu. They were installed May 9 at their Bay Oaks Country Club luncheon.

DAR Chapter picks officers for 2018-20
THE SAM HOUSTON Chapter of the Houston National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution also introduced new officers when members met on May 5 at Bay Oaks Country Club in Clear Lake.

New officers for 2018-2020 are Regent Beth Sears, 1st Vice Regent Sarah Adams, 2nd Vice Regent Rita Ash, Chaplain Susie Ganch, Recording Secretary Becky Miles, Corresponding Secretary Ann Caywood, Treasurer Kati Hill, Registrar Lara Phillips, Historian Julie McRee and Librarian Fran Bodden.

Texas State Regent-Elect Susan Greene Tillman discussed the theme, “Are You Letting Your Light Shine?” Her speech focused on the many ways all DAR members can become involved in DAR, no matter their interests, talents and strengths. DAR is an organization that provides countless community service in projects helping veterans, libraries and schools.

Clear Lake Chatter: Go Red for women raises $220,000

April 1st, 2018

Cindy Deaton, Tracey Adams and Marilyn Sims, from left

A BEAUTIFUL sea of red filled South Shore Harbour Resort’s Crystal Ballroom as hundreds of Bay Area women – fashionably dressed in red — and quite a few men, gathered to take up the American Heart Association’s fight against heart disease by raising $220,000.

The occasion, of course, was the annual Bay Area Go Red for Women Luncheon, chaired this year by Loraine Lyons, who with her husband, Dr. Michael Lyons, joined Men Go Red For Women Co-Chairmen Jim Sweeney and Santiago Mendoza Jr. in welcoming some of the early arrivals – League City Mayor Pat Hallisey and his wife, Janice, Jana and Chris Reed, Pat and Wendell Wilson, Kristy Cormier, Colene Joiner, Sara Martin, Michelle Stoddard, Katie Pistone, Brooke Villanueva, Emmeline Dodd and Kenneth and Kristi Koncaba.

Pretty Elissa Rivas of ABC Ch. 13 served as emcee of the “Survivors With Style” fashion show that featured models Sherri Grisham, Caroline Smith, Andrea McGhee, Amber Trueblood, Michele Metts, Barbara Welch, Carolann Peters, Veronica Wier and Kelli Reddinger showing off fashions from Macy’s while those who played key roles in making the day a success looked on – Circle of Red Co-Chairmen Darcy Whatley and Tama Brantley McEwen, plus Gloria Greene, Tamara Ostermayer, Marilyn Sims and Theressa Riggs, to name a few.

Emmeline Dodd, right, walks into South Shore Harbour Resort to find Pat and Wendell Wilson at the Luncheon.

Others included Heart Throb Chairman Sandy Adams, Open Your Heart Chairman Fay Picard, Auction Chairman Laurie Dahse and Fashion Show Chairman Stephanie Rice and their committee members – Meloney Bean, Abbie Contreras, Amanda Fenwick, Brandy Gates, Hilary Hart, Donna Orozco, Tamara Ostermayer, Teresa Provis, Kelli Reddinger, Nancy Suarez and Elizabeth Quigley.

The event came to a lively close with the showstopper – the annual Heart Throb of the Year Competition featuring Dr. Jason Gukhool, representing Elite Care 24 Hour Emergency Room– League City; Jonathan Bender and James Blasczyk, representing Bay Area Regional Medical Center; and Chris Reed, representing All American Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Institute.

After an exciting vote by the audience, Chris Reed emerged the winner, taking home the Heart Throb of the Year Award, sponsored by Texan Bank.

Almost all the area’s medical facilities helped sponsor the event, including Bay Area Regional Medical Center, UTMB-Health, Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital, Kindred Hospital Clear Lake, Elite Care 24-Hour Emergency Room of League City, U.S. Anesthesia Partners, All American Orthopedic & Sports Medicine, Chi St. Luke’s Health, Cornerstone Hospital, Pam Rehabilitation Hospital of Clear Lake, Baywood Crossing Rehabilitation and AMED Medical.

Along with Moody National Bank, Norman Frede Chevrolet, BB&T, Texan Bank, ABC Ch. 13, Bay Area Houston Magazine, Leidos Women’s Network and Big League Dreams.

The Clydesdales draw cheers from the Mount Belvieu crowd.

Clydesdales lead Wismer celebration
CONGRATULATIONS to Michael and Ann Wismer Landolt and Jim and Tonya Ferris on their beautiful new Wismer Distributing facility that just opened in Mount Belvieu.

Had quite a celebration the other day with the Budweiser Clydesdales, the iconic Dalmation and members of the Baytown Rotary Club taking part in the parade through town and grand opening festivities at Mount Belvieu City Hall.

Speakers included Chambers County Judge Jimmy Sylvia, Harris County Precinct 3 Judge Don Coffey and Mount Belvieu Mayor Nick Dixon as hundreds gathered to celebrate.

HEB hosts event for Guild members
BAY AREA MUSEUM Guild members were in for quite a treat when HEB hosted a complimentary Wine Tasting at the museum for members.

Jan Larson served as chairman for the event, which drew quite a crowd, including Jack and Marcy Fryday, Peter and Pam Culpepper Cronk, Mary Ann Shallberg, Beverly Giacone, Donnie Johnson, Linda and Rich Steber, Lisa and Manuel Clobanu, Ava Galt. Leo and Rose Marie Symmank, Barbara Spencer, Kathy Herman and Sandi Allbritton, to name a few.

A variety of hors d’oeuvres and cheeses that match up perfectly with the type of wine served delighted one and all, who really enjoyed the evening.

Clear Lake Chatter: Parties Keep Bay Area in a Happy Mood

January 1st, 2018

Ava Galt, Bay Area Museum Guild co-president, from left, and Nina McGlashan welcome new Guild member Kathy Riggle.

BAY AREA MUSEUM Guild officials were all in a partying mood as their annual holiday party got underway at the museum in Clear Lake Park where Co-Presidents Carole Murphy and Ava Galt welcomed Robert and Nina McGlashan, Frank Perez and Priscilla Ennis, Peter and Pam Culpepper Cronk, Anita Fogtman and Jerry and Peggy Clause to come right in and join the fun.

First Vice President Jan Larson, who came with her husband, Gib, quickly invited them to sample the array of refreshments, along with new arrivals Pat Biddle and her husband, Ron Kahl, Emmeline Dodd and Gene Hollier, David and Cindy Kuenneke, Sharon Ferguson and new members Todd and Kathy Riggle, Neldon and Lois Costin and Donnie Johnson.

Others joining the celebration included Tony Galt, Gail and Don Devens, Sandi Allbritton, Louise Russell and Keith and Sally Jordan.

Clear Lake Panhellenic President Michelle Richardson, right, joins hostess Barbara Dickey and Co-Chairmen Judie Ferguson and Sue Ellen Jennings, from left, as they prepare to welcome the arriving crowd to their annual Christmas Party.

Panhellenic party draws happy crowd
EARLIER THAT DAY, Clear Lake Area Panhellenic members gathered for their annual Christmas Party at Barbara Dickey’s Bay Oaks home in Clear Lake with Co-Hostesses Sue Ellen Jennings and Judie Ferguson assisting and the Clear Lake Soundwaves choir providing entertainment.

Besides the beautiful music, some 60 members enjoyed a wonderful buffet lunch provided by board members Michelle Richardson, D’Lisa Johnston, Katheryn Vernau, Greta Mee, Darla McKitrick, Lisa O’Brien and Jill Reason. Another highlight of the day was raffling off five items to raise funds for their scholarship to be presented in the spring.

Among those enjoying it all you might have spotted Suzie Rogers, Priscilla Ennis, Kathy Wiley, Jo Cat Bruce, Karen McCorkle, Ondie Lyon, Judy Raiford, Kay Lee Benoit and Jo Nell Hunter, to name a few.

Vicki Buxton, right, chairman of the Houston Symphony League Bay Area Holiday Party, goes over final details for the event with hostess Carole Murphy.

Symphony League ready to celebrate
THE INVITATION went out and nearly a hundred Houston Symphony League Bay Area members and their guests arrived at Carole Murphy’s Brook Forest home in Clear Lake, ready to celebrate the season and enjoy each other’s company.

With Co-Chairman Vicki Buxton assisting, they quickly welcomed Stephen and Mariglen Glenn, Nina and Bob McGlashan, Jim and Aggie Moore, Glenda and Gene Toole, Anita and Bill Knoles, Kathleen Kearns, Deanna Lamorux, Dr. Horacio Guzman and his wife, Julia, Don and Judy Young, Eva Koll, Myra Barber, Sally Watt, Gillian Ford and Lew and Joan Wade.

They had hardly had time to say hello when in walked former Nassau Bay Mayor Don Matter, who now serves on city council, and his wife, Sherri; Janet and Jim Greenwood, Alice Steele, Vicki Buxton and Jim Hall, Pam and Matthew Vining, Betty Geehan, Louise and John Russell, Dana Puddy, Bobbie and Mike Munze, Jane Lackow, Jerry and Mary Ann Brown, Martha Mc Williams, Jean Raffeto, Gayle Nelson and Bobbie and Mike Munze and many more, ready to enjoy a delightful evening.a delightful evening.

Kathy Tamer, right, stops to talk with Yvonne Perrin, left, and Elaine Rister as she mingles with the crowd at the Assistance League Holiday Open House.

Assistance League hosts Open House
ASSISTANCE LEAGUE of the Bay Area members held their annual Holiday Open House Dec. 12 at the home of Cecilia Dismukes in Kemah’s Waterford Oaks.

Planned to perfection by Social Chairman Susan McCoy and Vice Chairman Arlis Miles, not a detail was missed. The venue was beautifully decorated, the sweet and savory snacks a delight to everyone’s palette, and a festive environment allowed for great conversation and visiting with both long-time and new friends.

In addition to lots of members taking a break from helping the area’s needy, many chapter supporters and partners could be found in the crowd. Many volunteered to prepare favorite recipes from both of the league’s award-winning cookbooks, Settings on the Dock of the Bay and Setting Sunrise to Sunset.

Clusters of people, such as Yvonne Perrin, Lisa Holbrook, Priscilla Magnuson, Badiha Nassar, Sandra Sellers, Barbara Weitenhagen and Elaine Rister, were found at a variety of locations, inside and out. Whether munching on treats inside, surrounded by lights, trees, and wreaths, or enjoying the beautiful view of the lake, it was a pleasure for all who attended, including Kathy Tamer, Sandra Kelver, Sarah Foulds, Linda Kelly, Ann Hammond, Jean Simms, Annette Snow Falks, Sharon Dillard and President Ann-Marie Doolin.

Development rules tightened

January 1st, 2018

Clear Lake project saves many homes from flooding

By Mary Alys Cherry

It comes too late for many, but Harris County Commissioners Court has tightened up flood plain development regulations in an effort to prevent new homes being built in the 500-year flood plain from future flooding.

The county action came only days after a Clear Lake forum on flooding, led by the Houston flood czar, Stephen Costello, and a group of experts who felt something needed to be done in the wake of the thousands of homes and cars that flooded during Hurricane Harvey.

The new development rules, which were approved unanimously at the Commissioners Court Dec. 5 meeting, call for new homes to be built up to eight feet higher than was previously required and that homes be built to the 500-year storm standard, rather than the 100 year requirements. Judge Ed Emmett who only recently said, “We need to start over and look at everything,” called the new rules “the toughest in the nation.”

The Clear Lake flood forum featured a diverse group of experts and thought leaders exchanging ideas on how to solve both the flooding problem and the need for a coastal spine to protect the area from storm surge during hurricanes.

MANY HOMES SAVED
Best news of the night at the public forum at NASA’s Gilruth Center came as Clear Lake City Water Authority President John Branch described how its Exploration Green project saved hundreds of Clear Lake City homes from flooding, although it is only 88 percent complete. The Clear Lake area, downhill from Houston and Pasadena, has eight 100-year flood plains and four 500-year flood plains, he said.

But, Branch explained, “we couldn’t get the government’s help, so we bought the golf course.”
And, he proudly told the audience, “It worked as designed, filling up with 100 million gallons of stormwater” that could have gone into nearby homes.

Exploration Green was formed and incorporated to develop, preserve and protect the land that was once known as the Clear Lake Golf Course. The land was purchased by the Clear Lake City Water Authority for use as both a storm water detention pond and a recreation area.

The Water Authority created a Master Plan for the area and sponsored the formation of a Conservancy to generate funding for the installation, operation and maintenance of the amenities outlined in the plan, such as hike, bike and pedestrian commuter trails, athletic fields, lakes, water features and abundant natural habitat and native grass land areas.

STILL NO HELP
The second part of the evening was devoted to the proposed coastal barrier system, which would provide a gate across the mouth of Galveston Bay and a barrier system along the coast, to prevent storm surge damage during hurricanes, but which still lacks financial help from the government nine years after Hurricane Ike’s devastation.

Col. Len Waterworth from Texas A&M-Galveston showed a film illustrating how a direct hit by a Category 5 hurricane could wreak havoc across Southeast Texas and how various cities and officials are working to get the money to build the system. Jim Blackburn of Rice University, Brandt Mannchen of the Sierra Club and Bob Stokes of the Galveston Bay Foundation told of their efforts to keep an eye on the turtles, birds, fish and wildlife in Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

Dr. George Guillen, director of the UHCL Environmental Institute hosted the event and Dr. Neal Lane of the Baker Institute at Rice served as moderator.

Clear Lake Chatter

November 1st, 2017

BAY AREA MUSEUM was packed the other morning as Bay Area Museum Guild members kicked off the new season with a shower for the museum.
That’s when they bring things like napkins, paper towels, dishwashing liquid, etc. that will be used for events held there throughout the year. Some even had fancy wrappings like they would take a gift to a bridal shower.

Co-Presidents Jan Larson and Carole Murphy were there to welcome the arriving crowd, which included Diana Dornak, Janet Greenwood, Peggy Clause, Ava Galt, Sandi Allbritton, along with Sally Jordan and her daughter, Susan Long, Cindy Kuenneke, Nina McGlashan, Ann Morgan, Judy Peterson and Barbara Spencer – all ready for another year.

Others spotted enjoying the program by Suzanne Langford included Laraine Eggars, Pam Leach, Virginia Ritter, Mary Walter, Lilian Terxerra, Gail Devens, Judy Young, Angela Braun, Doyle Richter, Cindy Culberson, Laura Maile, Lois and Neldon Costin, Vicky Yahn, Lily Sun, Cherry Nims, Lisa Golich and Yvonne Guy.

Carol Bobo, from left, stops to say hello to Bobbie Moutz and Sandy Lantz as she arrives at the Bay Oaks Women’s Association Fall Coffee at the country club.

BOWA Fall Coffee a fun event for all
ANOTHER POPULAR fall event is the Bay Oaks Women’s Association’s Fall Coffee, which was started about 25 years ago as just a pleasant way to relax and make friends.

Back then, everyone paid $5 to sit around for a couple of relaxing hours sipping coffee, munching on crepes, getting to know their tablemates and showing off the latest fashions.

Over the years it evolved into a luncheon with a speaker. This month’s speaker was Jeff Moore, president of TopGun Security & Investigations and a powerful figure in the security profession, as well as the private investigation world.

Among the many enjoying the event were Carol Bobo, Myrna Baker, Janet Greenwood, Brigid McVaugh, Norma Ogletree, Katherine Kieselhorst, Courtney Atchley, Bobbie Moutz, Sandy Lantz, Sharon Dillard, Cindy Zook, Amy Roppolo, Suzanne Leatherman and Judie Ferguson.

Some of the others spotted mingling with the crowd included Sue Labbs, Eileen Hult, Emmeline Dodd, Jackie Daley, Susan McCoy, Sharon Phelps, Glenna Crist, Kay Lee Benoit, Mary Colombo, Karen Reed and Ruth Beecher.

Many are busy these days planning their annual gala, which is scheduled Saturday, Nov. 4.

As President Jodie Schnabel was out of town, Vice President Amy Schweers welcomed the crowd and introduced the speaker.

Mary McMullen, center, with her daughter-in-law, Virginia McMullen, right, and sister-in-law, Amanda Wallace, join the crowd at the Bay Area Museum Guild’s Just A Pretty Table Luncheon at Bay Oaks Country Club in Clear Lake.

Pretty Tables and then some
MOST JAW-DROPPING event of the season? Hands down winner is always the Bay Area Museum Guild’s Just a Pretty Table Luncheon, which offers so much more than just pretty tables.

It’s been that way for 12 years since Angie Weinman introduced us all to “Pretty Tables,” and we’re still addicted to it. The participants spend hours and hours thinking up a theme, getting all the needed people and pieces and then molding it all together into a pretty picture before you get to sit back and enjoy the final product.

Robyn Weigelt, right, and Johnette Norman share a light moment in front of their Moulin Rouge table at the Just A Pretty Table Luncheon at Bay Oaks Country Club.

We walked in to find Krista Williamson, Cheryl Lis, Beverly Jo Parsons, Badiha Nassar, Annette Dwyer, Wendy Draela, Diana Dornak, Phyllis White, Maureen Hogan, Kathleen Courville, Lori Culberson and Dr. Cindy Castille showing off their beautiful handiwork.

Some of the others adding their talent included Carole Murphy, Sally Jordan, Kimberley Weathers, Peggy Green, Cathy Osoria, Barbie Clariday, Janice Gornto, Lynn Smith, Tracey Webb, Kristy Tankersley, Stephanb Roush, Jana Miller, Marie Sharp, Jill Reason, Nancy and Raven Sanders and Julie Johnson.

If you haven’t seen it, don’t miss the next one. Fun!

 

Mike DeMasi, from right, and his son, Hunter, talk with Ron Finn as they await the Bay Area Houston Ballet & Theatre’s season opener, Swan Lake, at UHCL’s Bayou Theatre. All had family members in the ballet.

Ballet launches ‘17-‘18 season
BAY AREA HOUSTON Ballet’s talented dancers launched a new season with the opening of Swan Lake at the UH-Clear Lake Bayou Theatre and a kickoff party down the way overlooking the university’s Atrium I.

Ballet Executive Director Jill Reason, Board Chairman Clarence Wilson and Vice Chairman Cindy DeMasi, who arrived with her husband, Mike DeMasi and their son, Hunter, welcomed the arriving crowd that included Badiha Nassar, Monica Jackson, Scott and Jennifer Stillman, Ellen King, Mary Ann Shallberg, Ken and Avery Ballard, Darlene Kaboutari, Susan Long, Ron Finn and Lillie Harmon, to name a few.

All seemed to really enjoy the popular production and were looking forward to the opening of The Nutcracker Friday, Dec. 1.