Volume 17 :: Number 3
Fall 2012

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Housing & Community Development

Marino Flores retired Feb. 11 after 33 years … The American Heart Association presented the department with the American Heart Gold Achievement for meeting employee fitness criteria … At the Housing and Employment Resources Expo Feb. 9, the Homebuyer Assistance Program team set up a booth to market homebuyer assistance programs ... On March 5, the department, residents and Housing and Urban Development officials celebrated the grand opening of a new section of the Talento Bilingue de Houston, 333 S. Jenson. The new 2,200-square-foot rehearsal hall with storage and small-office space was built with $200,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds … Welcome My-Hang Nguyen, Ha Nguyen, Brandon Jackson, Olaolu Kasunmu, Tracy Beavers, Ada Edwards, Will Guajardo, Deirdre Williams, Eric Williams, Donald Sprayberry and Caroline Gamble. – Lester Whiteing

Station 51 Open House
More than 200 citizens met firefighters, learned about fire safety and took pictures at Fire Station 51, 6902 Bellaire, during an open house Jan. 31.

Fire
On March 21, more than 250 people attended the memorial ceremony at the Houston Firefighters’ Memorial Garden, 4225 Interwood N. Parkway … At the Trailblazers ceremony Feb. 27, Councilwoman Jolanda Jones, Chief Phil Boriskie and members of the Class of 1955, the first class of blacks to be sworn in as HFD firefighters, honored Rosa Arenas, senior communications captain, Alison Stein and Michelle McLeod, assistant arson investigators, for achieving ranks not previously reached by women in HFD … More than 100 new firefighters took the oath of office Jan. 8, March 3 and April 9 … Station 8 downtown was adopted by Devon Energy through the Adopt a Fire Station Program. Devon contributed $5,000 to make the firefighters’ living quarters more comfortable … During a ceremony Jan. 15, the department honored heroes who made an impact on HFD or citizens. The heroes included several large corporations that adopted fire stations or formed partnerships with the department to promote safety, citizens who assisted HFD with projects, and Justina Page, who founded The Amos House of Faith, a nonprofit that supports those who have been affected by burns in Houston and surrounding areas … Boriskie, Councilwoman Toni Lawrence and community leaders welcomed firefighters back to the newly renovated Station 49, 1212 Gessner, March 16 … EMS at Station 9 held a reunion Feb. 12 with Diana Lorenzana, a cardiac-arrest survivor … On March 3 at Fire Station 31, fire crews from northwest Houston met three children they rescued from a house fire on New Year’s Eve … At Fire Station 19, 1801 Gregg, March 23, two children and their mother who were rescued from their home in February met the firefighters who saved them. – Alicia White

Municipal Courts Administration
The Virut Virus attack and other challenges prompted Director Sahira J. Abdool to express a renewed appreciation for the hardworking MCA staff, a renewed awareness of the department’s responsibility in guarding the public’s trust in handling its information, and a renewed commitment to quality work by department employees. – Shameka Barnaba

Legal
Kudos to Connie Acosta, Tom Allen and Don Fleming for serving as discussion leaders for Professionalism Day 2009. Professionalism Day, a half-day program sponsored by the Houston Bar Association, lets students from the three Houston law schools meet experienced judges and attorneys to discuss ethical problems facing the legal profession … Kudos also to our Mayor’s Cup 2009 bowling participants: Aisha Adams, Paula Slaughter-Harris, John Tatum, Rafael Sanchez and Abraham Izaguirre. Adams finished second and Slaughter-Harris seventh … Good job to Paige Bryant, Carolyn Chaney, YuShan Chang, Alexander Cruz, Deborah Gray, Richard Hinojosa, Abraham Izaguirre, Fabian Izaguirre, Belinda Mata, Rafael Sanchez, Lynna Shuffield, Adorn Strambler, Ondrea Taylor and Dennis Yaksich, who teamed up to win first place in the Go Red Love Your Heart reception desk competition … On April 9, the department honored the following employees during its public-service recognition awards: Bill Beauchamp and Millicent Sumuel-Fletcher, 30 years; Barbara Pierce, 20 years; Connie Acosta, Don Cheatham, Robert Johnson, J.R. Lopez, Deborah McAbee, Malinda Moss, Trudy Nowak, Sokkhom Tan and Peggy Walker, 15 years; Vanessa Birdow, Velda Britt, Tracy Calabrese, Wynetta Chaney, Evelyn Gilleland, Alice Kipple, Patti Richards, Thomas Rodriguez, Jim Sutherland, Drenda Wallace, Ella West and Randy Zamora, 10 years; Jan Clark, Leslie “Rico” Davis, Shani Dennis, Terri Evans, Tanja Hunter, Sameera Mahendru, Michael Martin and Mary McKerall, 5 years … Welcome new hires Mandy Prichard, Marisa Gillam, Keith Vaughan, Nelly Gonzales, Karen Sharp and Abraham Izaguirre. – Vachel Henry

Planning & Development
The following employees were recognized at a February awards ceremony for years of service: Lydia King, 25 years; Gilberte Banks, 20 years; Suzy Hartgrove, Gwendolyn Parker, Anna Sedillo, Debra Kirk, Stephen Tinnermon, and Russell Calhoun, 15 years; Lynn Henson, Mark Moore, Barbara Thomas, and Lawrence Boyee, 10 years. – Suzy Hartgrove

CEF Ribbon Cutting
Councilman James Rodriguez, third from left, Mario Ariza, CEF deputy director, second from right, and Dawn Ullrich, CEF director, far right, were among those who gathered at Talento Bilingue de Houston March 6 to celebrate the renovations at the city-owned Latino arts center.

Convention & Entertainment Facilities
The department completed major renovations at Talento Bilingue de Houston and Miller Outdoor Theatre. TBH added rehearsal space and other improvements, while Miller raised the elevation of its hillside seating area by six feet and added 1,708 seats beneath the canopy … Now you can follow Wortham Center, Jones Hall and the George R. Brown Convention Center on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube … Congratulations to John Gonzalez, promoted to director of event services at the GRB … Welcome aboard to Brenda Petersen … Congratulations to Laine Twining, Ashley Wilson and Eva Barrios, who were named department employees of the month. – Pete Radowick

Public Works & Engineering
On March 7, a bike ride from Discovery Green to Texas Southern University with stops to plant trees with The Park People and Parks & Recreation staff celebrated the Columbia Tap Rails to Trails Bikeway Trail opening. The trail runs from Dixie Drive to Walker Street with connections to the Medical Center, TSU, downtown and existing bike routes and lanes and adds four miles of trails to the city’s bikeway network … On March 28, volunteers cleaned up the Lake Houston Marina during the 16th annual Trash Bash … The city hosted the fifth annual Administrative Professionals Conference April 9 at the George R. Brown Convention Center. The conference enhances relationships and encourages mentoring and networking while helping to transform administrative professionals into “knowledge assistants” … Gwendolyn Condoleo, community liaison in the Mayor’s Citizens Assistance Office, gave the street and bridge branch of the right-of-way and fleet maintenance division a thumbs up for repairs to a Kingwood bridge rail … On April 4, the city, the Overbrook Civic Association and hundreds of volunteers cleaned and mulched the ditch at Bellfort and Northdale. The adopt-a-ditch program, administered by PWE and Keep Houston Beautiful, beautifies esplanade ditches and creates a sense of pride and ownership in keeping the drains free of debris. – Alvin Wright

Information Technology
On Oct. 29, City Council approved a contract with Motorola Inc. for a new radio system for Police, Fire and Public Works & Engineering. Their existing systems do not have the capacity to meet the needs of existing or new users. The new Project 25 Phase II-compliant radio-communications system will represent a new era in wireless communications for the city. The 700 MHz radio project will improve coverage, reliability, cost-effectiveness, and interoperability. Visit www.houstontx.gov/it/radio/index.html for more information. – Bob Nowak

Parks & Recreation
Lifeguards are being hired for the 2009 swim season that kicks off Memorial Day weekend. With new federal guidelines for pool-drain safety, the aquatics division has been bringing the swimming pools up to code … Alief Park boasts the city’s second Playground Without Limits, with a ramp system offering play opportunities for children of all abilities. The first playground, the Vale-Asche Foundation Playground, is at Memorial Park. A third will be coming soon to Tidwell Park … Hackberry Park, a 22-acre former golf course in Alief, opened March 21 … Copies of the “Summer Activities in the Park” catalog that lists recreational opportunities at parks and community centers are at the 57 community centers and www.houstonparks.org … The fruits of last fall’s Lady Bird Johnson Tribute Planting burst into full flower, bringing splashes of color all over town. – Don Whitaker

Aviation
A record 2,000 people participated in the Mutt Strut and Runway Race at George Bush Intercontinental Airport March 7, raising nearly $200,000 for the Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. This year’s event attracted more than six times as many participants as 2007. Director Rick Vacar welcomed the crowd and was pleased that his “pet project” attracted so much interest. Vacar and his wife, Ann Marie, are strong animal advocates who provide a home to 13 dogs, eight cats, four horses, one longhorn steer, two goats and miscellaneous fowl. The event offered family activities, including a best-dressed dog contest, giveaways and entertainment. – Roxanne D. Butler

Library
Welcome Franchella Ross, Laura Joanna Lopez, Laney Meadow, Denejra Milburn, Katherine Thomas, Jane Allen, Richard Clark, Jeanette Martisek, Alice Tenaglia, Alia York, Rebecca Chin, Jeffrey Coyle, Katherine Keene-Doyle, Phillip Mushtag, Carolyn Rittenhour. Ja’Naye White, Sumitra Chatterjee, Frank Hall, Brian Summers, Robyn Ford, Jacquina Sowell, Kimberly Tobler, Keith Cavanaugh, Sean Oliver, Kristain Clark, Loc Huynh, Kimberle File, Trista Larson, Yasmin Washington, Betty Broyles, Tula Gorden, Christy Chang, Djuna Hammett, Amanda McKenzie, Nicolas Castellanos, H. Boston Bostian, Juan Benavides, Linz Estrada and Joane South-Shelley … Welcome back to Candace Melonson, Timothy Hardy, Ana Ramirez, Andrea Lawrence, Sean Oliver, Melvin Davis and Marjorie Guillory … Congratulations on promotions to Kendra Cook, Runda Giles, Greg Simpson, Sara Pope, Susan Wheeler, Ashley Riggenbach, Patrick Atkins, Justine Basha, Eric Wilbourn, Vilma Mazariegos, Melesia Davis, Jennifer Canales, Monica Siboldi, Gloria Edmond, Udelia Vega, Syndey Colwell, Candace Melonson, Debra Allen, Elizabeth Swan, Darcy Casavant, Aaron Gabaldon, Michelle Goodwyn, Jonathan Sherman, and Gwendolyn Williams. Best wishes for a happy retirement to Renate Roberts, Maria A. Juresko and Ellen Campos … Doctoral student Charles Murray, librarian at Jungman Neighborhood Library, was awarded one of two Simon-Poppenhagen scholarships by Walden University’s cyberspace chapter of Phi Delta Kappa, an international organization of professional educators … In partnership with the Julia Ideson Library Preservation Partners, HPL is restoring the historic Julia Ideson Building and adding an archival wing. The new archival wing should be completed in December, and the renovation should be completed in March 2011. The Ideson is among the first Texas Historic Landmark projects on track for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification… Library and Parks & Recreation broke ground for the new Belle Sherman Kendall Neighborhood Library and Community Center, 609 N. Eldridge. The facility will replace and nearly double the space of the Kendall Neighborhood Library, 14330 Memorial Drive. This is the first combined library and community center in Houston, the first three-story neighborhood library, and the first library with a drive-up window. Construction should be completed by the end of 2009. The new facility, adjacent to Terry Hershey Park, will offer a connection to hike and bike trails ... A photo of library staff members traveled into space on NASA’s Space Shuttle Discovery mission in March. Astronaut Dominic “Tony” Antonelli, the pilot and son of Pam Antonelli, a librarian at Central Library, carried the photo as a reminder of his mother and her chosen profession. – Blanca Quezada

Affirmative Action
Congratulations to Jean Abercrombie, Vanessa Aplon and Eduardo Mejia, who were promoted to senior contract compliance officers … A warm welcome to Deborah Chen. – Patsy Jackson

Health & Human Services
In March, the department began setting up community gardens at 10 multi-service centers. Staff with the Bureau of Health Promotion and Education and residents planted the first community garden at the Southwest Multi-Service Center. Residents volunteering in the garden harvest the food and attend nutrition classes. They can then incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables into their diet. Plans call for gardens at the West End and Sunnyside Multi-Service centers in the fall … The Community Re-entry Network seeks to reduce the number of people rearrested by helping them re-enter society and live productive lives. Support groups include training, referrals, peer support, employment, housing, transportation and healthy family relationships ... The Women, Infants and Children program is trying to reduce obesity among low-income children by recruiting pediatricians for its Catch 5 for a Healthy Weight project. The doctors will teach parents about body mass index and the consequences of childhood obesity and help parents and caregivers promote healthier weight for their children. Goals include eating healthy snacks, drinking water, choosing low-fat milk, eating vegetables and exercising. – Porifirio Villarreal

Human Resources
The Employee Assistance Program moved to 50 Briar Hollow Lane, Suite 290. To schedule an appointment, call 713-964-9906 … HR won an Award of Honor from the National Safety Council for having a 100 percent reduction in workplace injures ... Happy retirement wishes to EAP counselor Ruth Carroll … Welcome new hires Tina Flowers, Shelia Bailey, Christopher Trevino, John D’Agnostino and Jessica Rich. – Bobby Vasquez

General Services
Welcome new team members Alex Mena, Manny Garcia and Jamil Whalen … Happy retirement to William Hauck, 28 years; Chris Fisher, 21 years; Alina Gazdyszyn, 12 years; and Lucio Vasquez, 5 years … Wanda Adams’s District D office thanked the parking management division for removing 18-wheelers, ensursing safe and efficient parking for citizens downtown and in the Houston area, and enforcing residential parking permits and safety in school zones. – Jacquelyn L. Nisby

Municipal Courts Judicial
On March 25, City Council confirmed Cheryl Alsandor, Sydney Braquet, Theresa Chang, Kimberly Gamble, Gerardo Montalvo, Andrew Morrison, Andres Pereira, Njeri Rutledge, Dennis Slate, Kim Trujillo, Joe Villarreal, and MiHoa Vo as substitute judges. Each brings a wealth of knowledge and experience … Welcome Margaret Taylor, Andrea Vaughan and Belinda Villarreal … The Juvenile Case Manager (Truancy) Program is underway. Dolores Mendiola, senior juvenile case manager, oversees Elizabeth Alfaro, Catherine Klier, Miguel Nazario and Traci Turner. All four work closely with targeted HISD campuses, the students and their families to reduce truancy. – Lilly Warden

Solid Waste Management
On March 20, Director Harry Hayes encouraged residents to dispose of their household hazardous products at the city’s free environmental-service centers. The centers accept anti-freeze, batteries, fuel, oil, paint, pesticides, household cleaners, televisions, VCRs, computers and monitors. For more information, visit www.houstonsolidwaste.org or call 311 … In March, the city kicked off the Automated Recycling Pilot Program. Participants received a 96-gallon green cart for recycling. Printed on the lid is a list of accepted items. SWM selected 10,000 homes in the Lindale Park, Meyerland, Old Sixth Ward, Oakbrook, Pinebrook, Pineloch, Riverwood Estates and Westbury neighborhoods for the one-year pilot program, which is projected to divert tons of waste from landfills every month. – Marina Joseph

 
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