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Department News

Affirmative Action

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More than 900 Hurricane Rita evacuees were flown from George Bush Intercontinental Airport to shelters in Lubbock and El Paso in the two days before the storm brushed past Houston in the early morning hours Sept. 24.

At Ellington Field, the U.S. Air Force’s 147th Fighter Wing set up a temporary hospital near its on-site clinic to relieve the overcrowding in hospitals in and around Houston. Hospitals in and around Houston had already taken in scores of patients displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Only about 20 beds were vacant when the new influx of patients began.

On Thursday prior to the storm, Bush Intercontinental and William P. Hobby airport terminals were packed with travelers who decided to fly at the last minute. Many did not have a ticket. Due to effective communication through the media, passengers heeded the warning not to come to either airport, and the crowds began thinning by midafternoon. By noon Friday, the last flights departed about 12 hours before Rita came, and no stragglers were left in the terminal.

No major airport in the U.S. has on-time arrivals and departures that match Bush Intercontinental. The latest on-time performance report released in August by the U.S. Department of Transportation surveyed the nation’s 33 largest airports for on-time arrivals and departures for one year ending June 2005. Bush ranked first in all rating categories. Compared to the year before, the 2004-05 performance improved by 15 percent. – Roger Smith

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Building Services

Employees recognized for their years of service at the annual employee awards ceremony and luncheon were: Emmitt Henry, 40 years; Nathan Large, 30 years; Florence Foster, Roberto Rocha, Mary Taylor-Ross, 25 years; Linda Gunn, John Kelly, Robert Merryman, Lawney Morales, Richard Young, 20 years; Robert Eadie, Stephanie Emmers, Russell Galbreath, Joe Garcia, Arquemides Joya, Percy Singleton, 15 years; Sandra Alexander, Ghassan Asmar, Robert Berry, Richard Bittman, Edward Boulter, Deborah Cole, David Cox, Wladyslaw Cupial, Calvin Curtis, Rodolfo Giron, Philip Golembiewski, Lisa Hicks, Pamela Ingersoll, Lugene Jackson, David Killebrew, Shalia Mason, Alex Mena, Frank Phan, Carter Roper, Baldomera Tovar, Michael Williams, 10 years; Vicente Barrera, Wayukula George, Javier Medina, Marion Moore, Julianna Olorondu, Regina Patrick, Chrystal Rodriguez, Georgina Rodriguez, Ali Samani, LaVonne Schoeneberg, Verdi Smith, Gilberto Soliz, Gil Villanueva, Russell Whatley, Ruthie Williams, 5 years. The department also recognized 47 employees for perfect attendance … Effective July 1, BSD consolidated the facilities management divisions of the Health and Library departments, transferring a total of 56 employees into BSD.

Congratulations to Jane Cheeks, Leroy Fenske, Clarence “Buddy” Hall, Wendy Teas Heger, Paul Marro, Vladimir Naranjo, Jacquelyn L. Nisby, and Reynaldo Vargas, recipients of the first Director’s Choice Award. Director Issa Z. Dadoush created the award to recognize employees for exemplary work and commitment to customer service.

LaTricia Lester, payroll supervisor in the PWE’s public utilities division, commended Marshall Abrin for going above and beyond the call of duty to assist another city employee with her disabled vehicle. – Jacquelyn L. Nisby

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City Council

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City Secretary

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Controller's Office

Debt manager Sue Bailey recovered $3.8 million for the city. About a year ago, Bailey noticed the money sitting in an escrow account set up by one of the Kingwood-area municipal utility districts prior to annexation in 1996. The money had become city property after annexation but had either been forgotten or overlooked. After talking with state agencies, bankers and public works personnel, Bailey talked the state into releasing the funds to the city. This is the second time Bailey has made this type of discovery. In FY 04, she recovered about $1 million dollars languishing in a forgotten escrow account. – Janice Evans

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Convention & Entertainment

Laine Twining, booking supervisor for theater district facilities, was named CEF employee of the year.

Employees honored as team players are: Anita Robles and Anna Hawley, George R. Brown Convention Center; Veronica Hernandez, Jones Hall; Alberto Garcia, theater district parks; Linda Hunter, human resources; and Yvonne Williams, accounting.

GRBCC staffers Anita Mendiet, 35 years, and Skip Kivel, 16 years retired.

New employees include Ted Bowen and Manny Obmaces.

Farewell to Daniel Nguyen.

Brinda Norwood is the department’s CMC coordinator, replacing Larry Larson, who did the job for 11 years.

Laine Twining and Virginia Oxford successfully completed certification at the Public Assembly Facility Management School. – Pete Radowick

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Finance & Administration

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On July 12 at Station 18, the department presented 13-year-old Corey Gaspero with a certificate of appreciation for saving the life of his soon-to-be stepfather, Lee Bolton. After Bolton dropped a large knife into his leg, Gaspero remained calm, called 911 and held the knife in place until paramedics arrived. According to Bolton, hospital doctors were amazed by Gaspero’s actions and said if the knife had moved he might have died. The teen’s actions were especially heart-warming, Bolton said, because the next day was Father’s Day.

On Aug. 29, EMS held a reunion at Fire Station 60 with the friends, family and firefighters who rescued a 2-year-old boy. The boy nearly drowned in a pool during a birthday party. His mother and bystanders preformed CPR and called 911. HFD crews from stations 60, 68 and 73 arrived and continued CPR and advance life support on the child. He was transported to a local hospital and has made a full recovery.

HFD deployed 13 members to assist with rescue operations in Louisiana. Eight are with Texas Task Force 1 USAR, and five are with Texas Task Force 1 Swift Water Rescue. They helped rescue several thousand citizens. Both teams returned to College Station Sept. 7.

More than 100 members were recognized during the HFD annual Medal Day Ceremony Oct. 7 for their dedication, valor and service with the fire department and for the citizens of Houston. – Alicia Whitehead

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Health & Human Services

Health inspection reports for Houston food establishments, ranging from swanky restaurants, nursing homes and grocery stores to mom-and-pop mobile food units and school cafeterias, are now online at The reports will tell consumers the sanitary conditions of a food establishment during the most recent visit by a health inspector. Consumers can search food establishments by name, category and zip code. The inspectors conduct unannounced visits at least once a year to each of the approximately 12,000 food establishments in Houston. They perform additional inspections based on public health risks posed by the establishment’s past compliance history.

The Children’s Environmental Health Program will receive a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to renovate about 250 homes that contain lead paint and house a lead-poisoned youth. Bond funds from the city’s Department of Housing and Community Development will augment the grant, bringing the total project value to $4.3 million. The program has renovated 1,138 Houston homes since 1996. Elevated blood lead levels in children can result in learning disabilities, behavior problems, mental retardation, speech and language handicaps and brain damage. Seizures, coma and death are possible at extremely high blood lead levels. – Porfirio Villarreal

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Housing & Community Development

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity congratulated HCDD staff for an excellent job addressing the key components in the city’s 2005 Analysis of Impediments. The AI provided an insightful overview of the status of housing in Houston.

The community outreach division launched a newsletter Housing Community Today, which will highlight department work and keep stakeholders abreast of the latest trends in the industry. The newsletter can be downloaded at

The 2005 consolidated plan, produced with residents, community leaders, representatives from nonprofit and for-profit agencies, as well as other city departments, describes how $65 million in federal funds will be spent to assist low- and moderate-income Houstonians. The plan highlights existing needs, presents a five-year strategy and promotes improvement projects for the current fiscal year. HUD released the funds in August. For more information, call (713) 868-8441, or download the plan from

Judge Ruben Guerrero, director of the community outreach division, and his staff served as panelists during the South Park/Sunnyside Super Neighborhood town hall meeting on reverse mortgage and predatory lending. More than 150 residents packed the Sunnyside Multi-service Center. Several other local government agencies, bankers, realtors, mortgage companies, nonprofit agencies, and civic clubs also participated.

Guerrero and staff also participated in Estrenando Casa’s Executive Business Forum hosted at the Intercontinental Hotel. Several local, state and national organizations, bankers and realtors served as panelists and addressed the influential role of Hispanic consumers.

Acres Homes Community Development Corp. hosted its eighth annual Volunteers Award Luncheon at the Greater Zion Missionary Baptist Church. HCDD served as a partner with special recognition given to the planning and process division.

HCDD participated in Congressman Gene Green’s federal grants workshop on grants and how to start and finance a small business.

HCDD and the Mancuso, Flores, Pleasantville and Scenic Wood library branches hosted reopening celebrations. The branches received funding through the Community Development Block Grant. – Lester Whiteing, Jr.

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Houston Emergency Center

David Cutler took over as director. Cutler retired from HPD after 24 years, most recently as assistant chief of information services command. – Joe Laud

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Human Resources

Intern Beatrice Galisch spent the summer learning about human resources.

At the June 24 service awards luncheon, Robin Heatherly and Karen Perkins received customer service awards while Roland Bienvenu, Monet Muse, Helen Murphy and Itanya Guliex won team spirit awards.

On Aug. 19 in Wortham Center’s Green Room, the communications division hosted the Mayor’s Executive Luncheon kicking off this year’s Combined Municipal Campaign. Former Channel 2 reporter Cynthia Hunt emceed.

Roland Bienvenu chaired the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center blood drive at 611 Walker.

Congratulations to Itanya Guliex, promoted to administrative assistant in temporary services, and welcome to Mirian E. Rocha, who took her place as an account clerk.

Thanks to HR employees who volunteered in the Katrina hurricane relief effort: Minerva Alba, Candy Aldridge, Roland Bienvenu, Ruth Carroll, Lucilla Chen, Rose Corder, Leslie Denton-Roach, Mack Eisenberg, Elizabeth Ford, Robin Heatherly, Anika Isaac, Valerie Jackson, Deborah Joseph, Julie Keeton, Donna Mitchell, Barbara Roy-Ruan, Connie Silerio, Yvonne Stafford, Gerri Walker and Mosis Willet.

Good luck to Ulysses Fogg, who transferred to the enterprise resource project team.

Welcome Mark Kasten, Maribel Gomez, Natasha Silmon, Paul Garcia and Mary Rangel.

Farewell and good luck to Beatrice Galisch, who worked in the department for seven weeks over the summer while visiting from Stuttgart, Germany. Galisch is studying public administration at the University of Applied Science and wanted to experience government in the southern United States. She will graduate September 2006. – John Perry

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Information Technology

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Congratulations to Rey Hernandez, winner of the August Eagle Award for going the extra mile. The August Eagle Award was dedicated to the men and women serving in the armed forces, and the $435 raised will be used to buy them calling cards.

Celebrating milestones are Annette Lake, 25 years; Douglas Herrera, Lillie Knight, 20 years; Adana Elliott, 15 years; Maria Hogan, Mary Sharp, 10 years; Laura Gill, Robert Allen, Harelda Brown, Susana Sosa, 5 years.

Welcome new employees Paulette Wolfson, Nirja Aiyer, Cynthia Rodriguez, Elida Gonzales, Sharon Rummels, and Sokkhorn Tan. – Vachel Henry

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Rhea Brown Lawson is the new Library director.

Rhea Brown Lawson is the new director. Lawson served as deputy director of the Detroit Public Library since 2003 and as chief of the Central Library in Brooklyn, N.Y., from 1999-2003. She’s the library’s sixth director in 101 years. – Dave Schafer



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Mayor's Office

Welcome interns Joseph Romano and Margaret Vallejo … Terrence Fontaine worked side-by-side with State Rep. Rick Noriega as site manager for the Hurricane Katrina Shelter at the GRBCC.

The Mayor’s Office salutes the many city employees who worked heroically to provide food, clothing and other assistance to Katrina victims. Your dedication and service is greatly appreciated. And remember the Houston Katrina/Rita Fund for any future donations at – Debra Veal

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Municipal Courts Administration

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Municipal Courts Judicial

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Parks & Recreation

The Southwestern Bell Corp. Foundation, the philanthropic arm of SBC Communications Inc., awarded a $320,000 grant to build the Acres Homes Baseball Complex in West Little York Park. Since 2001, SBC has donated $430,000. Park improvements include two lighted and fenced little league baseball fields with bleachers and dugouts, one lighted and fenced NCAA baseball field, a picnic pavilion, a multi-purpose trail throughout the park with connections to the neighborhood, a toddler playground with swings and spring riders, a boardwalk, an outdoor classroom, picnic tables and benches, and an information kiosk. The park is scheduled to be completed next summer.

The department recently celebrated the reopening of eight parks and community centers: Alief, a 37-acre community park; Swiney, a two-and-a-half-acre neighborhood park; Windsor Village, a nine-acre community park; Beverly Hills, a 21-acre community park; Burnett-Bayland, a 32-acre community park; Settegast, a four-acre community park; Shady Lane, a 12-acre community park; and Almeda, a one-acre neighborhood park. Improvements included new jogging trails and walkways, landscaping, drinking fountains, playgrounds, picnic tables, multiuse pavilions, renovated restrooms and meeting and activity rooms.

The welcome mat was put out for birds, butterflies and other wildlife during the first phase of a three-part education and demonstration program called the Gragg Park Naturalization Project. Gragg Park is the headquarters for the Parks and Recreation Department. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the National Wildlife Federation certified the Gragg Park courtyard as an official Texas Wildscape Garden and an official wildlife habitat. Phase two of the naturalization project will focus on the five esplanades that surround the park complex. These five esplanades will serve as landscaping demonstration areas and will be used to encourage citizens to take part in the city’s Adopt-An-Esplanade program. Phase three of the project will add landscape enhancements.

Eastwood, Watonga, Linkwood and Clinton parks have joined Kingwood Park in providing designed space for skate boarders, in-line skaters and traditional roller skaters. These new skate parks have concrete curbs, grind boxes, grind rails, concrete benches, curved benches, mini ramps, and pyramids. Skate parks are open from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Participants are encouraged to wear helmets and safety gear.

The department received two federal pass-through grants - $238,897 from the governor’s criminal justice division for the Mayor’s After-School Achievement Program, and $30,000 from Texas Forest Service for GIS support of the tree-inventory project. – Estella Espinosa

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Planning & Development

Marlene Gafrick, a 25-year department veteran, was appointed P&D director.

Robert Litke retired in August after 10 years as director, 14 years with the department. Marlene L. Gafrick, formerly deputy director, is the new director.

To permanently protect historic structures, the department created a “protected landmark” status. While the historic preservation ordinance allowed the designation of historic landmarks, it did not protect them from demolition or substantial change. To be eligible for protected landmark status, the property must meet at least three criteria named in the historic preservation ordinance; been constructed before 1905; be listed individually or as a contributing structure in a historic district listed in the National Register of Historic Places; or be recognized by the state as a Recorded State Historical Landmark. The city designated the first eight protected landmarks: Julia Ideson Library, 500 McKinney; Arthur B. Cohn House, 700 Avenida de las Americas; Houston Fire Station No. 7, 2403 Milam; Kellum-Noble House, 212 Dallas; Houston City Hall and Hermann Square, 901 Bagby; Gregory School, 1300 Victor Street; Houston Public Library – Heights Branch, 1302 Heights Boulevard; Houston Heights City Hall and Fire Station No. 14, 107 W. 12th Street.

Happy anniversary to Johnny Raia, who has worked for the city for 50 years. – Suzy Hartgrove

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In little more than 90 days, the newly created Houston Police Foundation raised more than $1 million to benefit projects that promote public safety. Donations received through the foundation support special programs, officer safety, training equipment and new technology. Under the direction of Don A. Sanders, the foundation is comprised of influential business and community leaders.

On July 27, Chief Harold L. Hurtt met with citizens to discuss the progress made by HPD on the most pressing crime and traffic issues identified during the 2004 crime summit.

Hurtt and members of his staff conducted an opening ceremony July 11 to welcome 70 men and women into cadet class #185 at the L. D. Morrison Houston Police Academy. On July 29, Hurtt pinned police badges on 63 graduating cadets at a commencement ceremony for cadet class #184. Adrian Garcia was keynote speaker. The graduating cadets have undergone 26 weeks of intensive training to become Houston police officers.

Hurtt participated in the 22nd annual National Night Out Aug. 2. Along with several HPD officers, Hurtt visited communities to meet citizens and show HPD’s support. To view photos of the event, visit

Officers with the public affairs division helped build a new life for one senior citizen Aug. 13. Lizzie Piper, 86, is a longtime resident and HPD supporter. Piper’s husband died a year ago, her only daughter died five years ago, and she has no immediate family in the Houston area. Officers who routinely check on her learned she was despondent to the point of losing her will to live. They and several remodeling experts gave Piper’s home an extreme makeover. “Our goal is to make her environment a better and happier place to live, and we will lift her spirits,” Officer Warren Jones said.

On Aug. 29, HPD and the Cy-Fair Chamber of Commerce kicked off the DWI Hero Campaign to reduce fatal accidents along two stretches of road: from FM 1960 West between State Highway 249 and Interstate 45, and SH 249 between Beltway 8 and I-45 in Northwest Houston/Harris County. Fifteen percent of all Harris County fatalities that are a result of drunk-driving accidents have occurred on those 14 miles of roadway. The Cy-Fair Houston Chamber of Commerce, Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce, 1960 Area Community Alliance and the Willowbrook Area Super Neighborhood are creating educational campaigns to decrease drunk-driving accidents in the area. In addition, TxDOT has constructed warning signs at either end of the corridors to raise awareness of the issue. The Hero Campaign, one of the many joint projects, will encourage the use of designated drivers and work for tougher drunk-driving laws. More details are at – Alvin Wright

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Public Works & Engineering

Ramiro Diaz, Elizabeth Esquivel, Christopher Trevino, and Vincent Mack, left to right, help youngsters during National Night Out.

On Aug. 2, four utility customer service employees participated in Neighborhood Night Out at Dezavala Park on the east side. The employees staffed a display, answered water and sewer questions, and distributed pamphlets, brochures and other material to educate residents about their water bill and water usage, including suggestions on ways to check for hard-to-find water leaks. – Gary Norman

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Solid Waste Management

Tyrone Auzene, Phyllis Walker, Tran Van, Chester McGowan were named employees of the quarter.

SWMD hosted its 16th annual Truck Drivers’ and Mechanics’ Road-E-O competition May 21 at the Northwest Service Center. First place winners were: Ismael Ozuna, Larry Smith, James Bennett, Telford Birmingham, and Ronnie Chappell. Second place winners were: Cesar Zendejas, Moses Thomas, Hiram “Hollywood” Nimmons, Isah Bell, and Garland Moses. They qualify for the state championship in Austin Sept.30. – Marina Coryat

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William K. Hall, 30, a recruiter in the Aviation’s human resources section, died Aug. 16. Hall joined Aviation in June 2004 and contributed to the launch of the NeoGov applicant tracking system. Funeral services were Aug. 20 at Rising Star Baptist Church in Oakdale, La. Hall’s fellow employees honored his memory during a memorial service Aug. 19 at the HAS Administration Building. He is survived by his parents, Ethel White of San Antonio and Romeo Hargrove III of Ville Platte, La; three sisters; one brother; and a large extended family.


Magnum Opus Award
Lone Star Award winner
Katie Award winner
Apex award winner