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  November 28, 2011

City of Houston Holiday E-Newsletter

Table of Contents


Mayor's Holiday Celebration Friday, December 2, 2011
Watch Houston's skyline come to life with music, lights and fireworks

Mayor's Holiday Celebration LogoThe Mayor’s Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting presented by Reliant will take place on Friday, December 2, 2011, 6 p.m. at City Hall, 901 Bagby, Houston 77002. The featured entertainers will be Grammy Award winner Diane Schuur and American Idol winner Ruben Studdard.

Please bring the entire family as well as a new unwrapped toy to the Reliant Booth to help the Salvation Army make the holiday brighter for a child this season! Also, Santa Claus will be available for photos courtesy of Land Rover Houston Central.

Southwest Airlines returns as the fireworks sponsor along with the continued support from the Houston Downtown District, Houston Public Library Foundation and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information visit http://www.houstontx.gov/mayorsholiday/index.html. To learn more about the Mayor's Office of Special Events, visit www.houstonspecialevents.org.


Houston Police and Fire Departments Offer Holiday Safety Tips

In an effort to help make this the safest of holiday seasons, the Houston Police Department is encouraging citizens to pay particular attention to their surroundings during the holidays.

Police offer the following holiday safety tips while shopping:

  • Stay alert to your surroundings and the people around you
  • Shop with a friend whenever possible. There is safety in numbers
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and multiple credit cards
  • Pay for purchases with a check or credit card
  • If possible, carry only your driver’s license, necessary credit cards or personal checks
  • If you must carry a purse, do not wrap straps around your arms or shoulders. You could risk injury from a would-be purse-snatcher
  • Do not carry wallets in a back pocket
  • When possible, slip bags/purchases in a nondescript bag(s)
  • Watch your purchases while eating in mall food courts; bags can be easily snatched
  • Have your car keys ready in hand before leaving the store
  • Ask shopping center security for an escort to your car if you are uncomfortable walking alone
  • Glance in the back seat and under your vehicle before getting in

While at home during the holiday:

  • Keep the outside of your home well lit with doors locked and curtains closed
  • Do not display gifts beneath your Christmas tree to be seen from windows or doors
  • After the holidays, do not advertise gifts received by the boxes left for garbage collection. Destroy boxes and place them in sealed garbage bags

For more tips on minimizing your chances of becoming a victim of crime, visit http://www.houstontx.gov/police/crime_prevention/. For additional information visit www.houstontx.gov/police.

The Houston Fire Department offers ongoing tips:

The Houston Fire Department (HFD) encourages citizens to become a link in the Civic Safety Chain. The Civic Safety Chain is a free email message service where businesses, civic associations and/or places of worship can receive a quarterly newsletter filled with fire and life safety information and monthly HFD updates. To download a copy of the fall 2011 newsletter here: http://www.houstontx.gov/citizensnet/cscfall2011.pdf.

To join the Civic Safety Chain, send an email request to paul.box@houstontx.gov. For additional information visit www.houstonfire.org.


Holiday Travelers: Hobby Airport Upper Level Roadway Closed

Houston Airport System LogoIt is important for holiday travelers to keep in mind that there is a major change at William P. Hobby Airport (HOU). The upper-level roadway is closed and the passenger drop off area has been rerouted to the second level of the attached parking garage. For holiday traffic, the ramp will open thirty minutes earlier for passenger drop off, at 4:30 a.m.

Other key points during closure period:

  • Drop offs and pickups involving wheelchairs will take place in a designated lane near the terminal on level one
  • Curbside check-in will still be available to Southwest Airlines customers on the ground level/baggage claim area
  • Drivers who are picking up arriving passengers are encouraged to use the Passenger Pick Up Waiting Lot located off of Airport Boulevard to limit congestion. For a map, please visit www.fly2houston.com/PickUpLot
  • Parking at Hobby Airport is limited; be prepared to park at the ecopark lots, www.fly2houston.com/HOUecopark, or other off-site parking lots
  • View a map and read more in the Hobby Airport Construction Newsletter (.pdf)

For more information on the Hobby Airport Roadway Closure, visit www.fly2houston.com/ProjectHobby or contact Roxanne Butler at Roxanne.Butler@houstontx.gov. To learn more about the Houston Airport System, visit www.fly2houston.com.


Provide Toys for the Holidays and Feed the Needy

The Houston Fire Department Holiday Toy Drive

Stocking Stuffer GraphicThe Houston Fire Department (HFD) and KPRC Local 2 are working together for the annual Operation: Stocking Stuffer toy drive benefiting Community Outreach, Inc. There will be a special kick-off event on Friday, December 2, at HFD Fire Station #2, 5880 Woodway, Houston 77057 from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Drop off new, unwrapped toys and receive a treat from Blue Bell Ice Cream and Los Cucos Mexican Cafés, while supplies last. Toy donations are welcome at any HFD Fire Station from December 2 through December 20. For a list and directions to HFD stations, visit http://www.houstontx.gov/fire/firestations/index.html.

Beginning December 2, select Firehouse Subs, Los Cucos Mexican Cafes and Philippe Restaurant and Lounge, 1800 Post Oak Boulevard, Houston 77056, will partner with HFD as toy collection sites. An updated list of toy collection sites will be available beginning December 2 at www.houstonfire.org.

For more information on Operation: Stocking Stuffer and ways to help, call Paul Box at 832.394.6636 or email him at paul.box@houstontx.gov. For a recorded message with information on the Great Toy Giveaway which takes place on December 22, call the Operation: Stocking Stuffer hotline at 832.394.6632.

The Houston Police Department Food Drive

La Comida Food DriveReach out and feed the less fortunate this holiday season. The “Comida” (“Food” in Spanish) Drive, started in predominantly Hispanic communities and is entering its 26th year of serving all Houston communities. Since its inception, the Houston Police Department (HPD) has partnered with Fiesta Mart, Inc. and The Pepsi Bottling group to collect, package and distribute boxes of food to Houston’s underprivileged families.

Last year, HPD officers and employees distributed more than 3,500 boxes of food. Citizens wishing to donate food or make cash donations may visit one of the 14 participating Fiesta Marts listed at http://www.houstontx.gov/police/links/fiesta_comida.htm on Thursday, December 1 and Friday, December 2 from noon to 8 p.m. and on Saturday, December 3 and Sunday, December 4 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information on the La Comida Food Drive, call HPD’s Community Services Unit at 713.308.3200. For additional information about HPD, see www.houstontx.gov/police.


Just in Time for the Holidays: Grand Re-Opening of Houston Public Library’s Historic Julia Ideson Building

Julia Ideson Building

On Monday, December 5, 2011, visit downtown Houston for a day of festivities to celebrate the Grand Re-Opening of Houston Public Library’s historic Julia Ideson Building, 500 McKinney, Houston 77002, home of the Houston Metropolitan Research Center. Activities begin at 10 a.m. with a dedication ceremony featuring Mayor Annise Parker and special guests. At 11 a.m., there will be music by The Mighty Orq as well as tours every hour on the hour, history talks throughout the building and carolers to ring in the holiday season. A complimentary light breakfast will be served.

For a complete list of activities for the grand re-opening, as well as more winter programs at the Julia Ideson Building, visit http://www.houstonlibrary.org/central-library-julia-ideson-building-texas-room-and-archives or call 832.393.1313. For more information about the Houston Public Library, visit http://www.houstonlibrary.org/.


During this Holiday Season, Make the Commitment to Recycle

Recycling TruckThe City of Houston Solid Waste Management Department has several locations to drop off holiday recycling. Appliances, burned out compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs, Christmas trees, electronics and holiday wrappings can all be recycled. Please commit to having a greener holiday season. For the holiday collection schedule and hours of operations at Solid Waste Management Department facilities, visit www.houstonsolidwaste.org or call 3-1-1.

Your Christmas Tree is Pining to be Recycled?

Give Christmas trees another life by recycling them after the holidays. For the 21st year, the City of Houston is providing recycling drop-off sites throughout Houston from December 27, 2011 - January 8, 2012. All drop-off sites will be closed on New Year's Day. For more information visit www.houstonsolidwaste.org or call 3-1-1.

New E-Recycling Partnership

Compucycle LogoIn addition to the Westpark Consumer Recycling Center and the Environmental Service Centers, the City of Houston now partners with Compucycle to accept e-recyclables at Compucycle’s permanent location in Spring Branch, 7700 Kempwood Drive, Houston, Texas 77055 from Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m to 3 p.m.

The Compucycle location is also a drop off for common household recyclables such as aluminum, glass, paper and plastics. Monthly weekend drop off site events are also held at select locations. For more information call 713.869.6700 or Toll-Free 1.888.314.7922 or visit www.compucycle.net.

Free Paint

Sprucing up for the New Year! The City of Houston's Environmental Service Center (South) offers free paint to give your home a fresh look for the new year. Located at 11500 South Post Oak, Houston 77035, the Center is open for paint distribution on Fridays (except holidays) from 9 a.m. - noon. First come, first served. For more information visit www.houstonsolidwaste.org or call 3-1-1.


Green Building Resource Center Offers Holiday Home Energy
Audit Tips

Green Building Resource Center

Saving money during the holidays is the perfect gift. Conducting a basic home energy audit yourself can significantly lower energy consumption and reduce your monthly bills during the winter months. The City of Houston Green Building Resource Center located at the Houston Permitting Center at 1002 Washington Avenue, Houston 77002, offers a simple checklist to help identify ways to improve energy efficiency. Come to the Green Building Resource Center during the holidays or get the list from the Green Building Resource Center website at http://www.codegreenhouston.org/docman/home-energy-audit/details.htm. For more information visit www.codegreenhouston.org.


Corral the Grease: Reducing Sewer Problems
Residents asked to help save money

A simple act in the kitchen could save residents from costly repairs and reduce the possibility of having a drain, sink or toilet back up during the holidays. Do you remember your grandparents saving cooking grease in a jar on the stove for use later? This small practice could help save millions of tax dollars in repair and maintenance cost to the city sanitary sewer lines that run from your home to the main underground sewer lines.

Corral the Grease PhotoPouring cooking grease, fat and oils down the drain is a common mistake a lot of cooks make. Animal fats, greases and vegetable oils poured into drains solidify and clog pipes. Cooking grease can get as hard as concrete, causing sewage to back-up and overflow storm ditches, streets and yards. The most practical way to reduce grease from kitchens is to follow some easy steps. Unclogging sewer lines is costly to repair and maintain.

  • Take a minute to properly dispose of grease and other items that can clog plumbing
  • Remember, garbage disposals are not effective for disposing fats, greases and oils
  • Instead of throwing away empty coffee cans, food jars, pet food cans etc., that you already have in your home, consider using them to collect your cooking oil or grease
  • Use oven roasting bags (sold in grocery stores) or foil lined bags to dispose of grease. Remember to dispose the containers in the trash

Homeowners have the ultimate responsibility to maintain the sanitary sewer lines that run from their homes to where they connect to the city line. If a blockage is causing problems in a home and it is discovered to be in a city line, a crew will come out and clear the line. For more information on how you can reduce sewer line blockages, visit the “Corral the Grease” website http://www.publicworks.houstontx.gov/utilities/corral_grease.html. Also visit http://www.publicworks.houstontx.gov/index.html.


New Year’s Eve Live in Downtown Houston
Ice Skating Returns to Discovery Green

Convention Center Fireworks (Photo by Jay Lee)Last year’s Gloworama has transformed into New Year’s Eve Live, the second annual illuminated, power-packed celebration at the City of Houston’s George R. Brown (GRB) Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas, Houston 77010. In addition to the spectacular light parade, new features have been added to the party, including an extended parade route, a bigger fireworks display and food and beverage stands.

The illuminated parade will circle through Discovery Green, across the street from the GRB Convention Center. A fantastic light show will begin at 11:30 p.m. and launch the official countdown to 2012. At the stroke of midnight, a fantastic firework display will light up the sky (photo credit: Jay Lee).

Please tell your friends, bring your families and celebrate the New Year downtown. New Year's Eve Live is free. Food will be sold throughout the park. Beer, champagne and wine will also be sold in a tented area open to those 21 and over.

Another way for the family to get into the holiday spirit is St. Joseph Medical Center's Ice at Discovery Green presented by the Houston Chronicle and Momentum Luxury Auto Group. The ice skating rink is open daily from Thanksgiving through January 22, 2102 at $10 (plus tax) which includes a skate rental.

For more information visit www.discoverygreen.com and www.newyearsevelive.com.


Mandatory Water Conservation and Burn Ban Still in Place

Water Dripping GraphicDespite recent rains and cooler temperatures, Houston’s mandatory water conservation measures are still in effect. Everyone is asked to continue examining daily water usage. Mandatory water restrictions are designed to help maintain adequate water supply in Houston's three drinking water reservoirs, Lake Conroe, Lake Houston and Lake Livingston. Even-numbered addresses are reminded to water only on Sunday and Thursday; odd numbered addresses on Saturday and Wednesday, before 10 a.m. or after 8 p.m. on your watering days. To get additional information on ways to conserve water, visit http://conservation.publicworks.houstontx.gov. For questions and comments email conservation@houstontx.gov or 3-1-1 Online.

The fire ban also continues to apply to any type of smoking, the use of barbecue grills and all other outdoor burning in City parks during the ongoing drought. Violations carry fines of up to $2,000 per offense.

For more safety tips, visit www.houstontx.gov/fire.


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