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SATURDAY | March 16, 2013 | Vol. 59 | No. 20 | www.theleadernews.com | @heightsleader
New Heights steakhouse being built from scratch
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Fresh Air Friday oﬀers improved commute The 11th annual Fresh Air Friday: Picnic on the Plaza is set for 11 a.m.-1 p.m. March 22 downtown at Jones Plaza, 615 Louisiana St. Sponsored by the Houston-Galveston Area Council, the event showcases a variety of commuting options designed to get the hordes driving into downtown out of their single-passenger vehicles, as well as displaying hybrid vehicles and sharing information about improving air quality. There will be free food and beverages from local vendors, live music, giveaways, and Kelsey-Seybold will oﬀer free health screenings. Those so inspired can sign a pledge to try a diﬀerent means of commuting, such as car- or van-pooling, working from home, taking the bus or a bicycle to work. For more, visit www.commutesolutionshouston.org
by Ivee Sauls firstname.lastname@example.org Owners Ronnie Killen and Ricky Craig have been hard at work in preparation for the opening of the highly anticipated CK’s Steakhouse. But the pair has faced some unforeseen challenges in preparation of the property at 1127 W. 19th Street, next to the Heights outpost of Craig’s Hubcap Grill. “The problem we’re having with the property right now is that we want to expand it: Add on a patio on the front, make the dining room bigger and then add on a kitchen in the back,” said Craig. But when it turned out the property was in a flood plain, a permit couldn’t be granted without elevating the building by three feet, he said. He and Killen decided that elevating the structure and concrete
This map, which shows the future CK’s Steakhouse property at 1127 W. 19th St. smack-dab in the middle of the ﬂood plain, has set back the project until fall, at the earliest. (Map from FEMA) foundation would result in more permitting and headaches. “It’d be better for us to bulldoze it, just tear it down and just start from scratch,” said Craig.
The structure, formerly the location of Shine’s Car Care, is set to be demolished in the next few weeks. “I think that’s the best thing to do be-
Marketing to their own Rhythm
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WHAT: Buﬀalo Bayou Regatta, Texas’ largest canoe and kayak race at 15 miles and with more than 500 participants. WHEN: March 16. Registration is at 7:30 a.m., launch at 9 a.m., awards ceremony at 1 p.m. Everyone paddles like mad in between. WHERE: Launch is from 7700 San Felipe, just west of Voss Road, with the ﬁnish line at Sesquicentennial Park, adjacent to the Wortham Theater downtown. HOW MUCH: Entry fee is $45 per person, $25 with student or military I.D. LEARN MORE: http://www.buffalobayou.org/regattabayou.html EDITOR’S TAKE: If you’ve lived in Houston for a while, you can remember when – and why – this was once called the “Reeking Regatta.” Now the Buﬀalo Bayou Partnership has cleaned and prettied up this urban waterway, which takes in both wilderness and downtown stretches. This event is a good chance to marvel at what a recreational asset the bayou has become.
THE INDEX. Public Safety Hipstrict Topics Obituaries Coupons Puzzles Sports Classiﬁeds
2A 3A 4A 5A 6A 4A 7B 4B
Scarborough High senior Joshua Baldwin works as a waver for Liberty Tax Service at 43rd and Ella. Baldwin qualiﬁed for a second audition for the television show, “America’s Got Talent.” At top, North Houston resident Jeﬀ Abernathy has acted in commercials and music videos as the “Million Dollar Baby.” (Photos by Michael Sudhalter)
Liberty wavers put some fun in tax season by Michael Sudhalter firstname.lastname@example.org Let’s face it – few people get excited about having their taxes done. And then there are those who question the effectiveness of a marketing campaign that has people standing on street corners dressed in odd costumes. But North Houston residents Jeff “Million Dollar Baby” Abernathy, 44, and Joshua “Little Mike” Baldwin, 18, are really just regular guys trying to put some fun into that necessary evil known as taxes. And they’re making a little pocket money on the side. Both of them are employed by Liberty Tax Service at 43rd and Ella, working as “wavers”, who stand on the corner in a Statue of Liberty costume. According to Quincy Harris, the owner of the 43rd and Ella Liberty Tax franchise, the wavers generate 30 percent of the franchise’s business. “The visibility of the outside marketing,” Harris said. “is invaluable to
the business. Everyone has their wavers. We’re often imitated, but never duplicated.” The appeal of the wavers extends beyond dollars and cents for Liberty, which has 4,000 offices in the United States and Canada. “I’m used to the attention because of my size,” said Abernathy, a little person. “Getting the smiles and the friendly waves makes your day better. So many people take photos every day – at least 10-20 per day.” Abernathy and Baldwin thoroughly enjoy the seasonal work and as an added benefit, they get their tax preparation at no charge. Abernathy, who is a carpenter by trade, saw an opportunity to work for Liberty when he was waiting for the bus one day earlier this winter. He has a background in local entertainment, with publicity photos titled “Million Dollar Baby.” He’s appeared in AstroWorld commercials, music videos and dressed up
see CK’s • Page 7A
Chamber director steps down
WITH FRIES & A DRINK
cause the building was very old,” said Killen. “I know it’s going to hold everything up, but it is going to be a lot less time to do it this way than to do it the other way, which is good.” CK’s Steakhouse is looking at another two months of waiting for the approval the drawings and the paperwork with the engineers and the contractors. “It is changing the time frame tremendously,” said Craig. Craig says both he and Killen were becoming frustrated with the delay in progress, but have other obligations keeping them busy in the meantime. “Ronnie is opening up a BBQ joint in Pearland, so it gives him more time to concentrate on doing his thing,” said Craig. “Hopefully we can bring that concept to the Heights, too,” said
at events as a leprechaun, elf and an Oompa Loompa. Baldwin, a senior at Scarborough, began working at Liberty earlier this year and has a background in dance/ performance. He discovered the opportunity on his way home one day. “He dances to Michael Jackson, so I dubbed him ‘Little Mike’,” Harris said. “He told me that out there on the corner is his stage.” Baldwin, who also works at Jimmy John’s Sandwich Shop, traveled to San Antonio for an “America’s Got Talent” audition. He then received a second audition in New Orleans and has a channel on YouTube, appropriately named “Joshua Baldwin.” “I like to dance,” Baldwin said. “I like to entertain people. It makes me happy, so I like to do it.” Baldwin is currently drawing people into a tax service, but he may someday get the chance to adjust the system. In the fall, he’ll enroll at the University of Texas as a Political Science major.
Ken Stallman, who’s led the Greater Heights Are Chamber of Commerce since the summer of 2009, announced to members Monday night that he’s stepping down. In an email, he said his last day would be April 15. Stallman noted that he had initially committed to a three-year run with the Chamber and that he’s approaching his fourth anniversary. “This will be my second retirement and probably my last fulltime job,” he wrote. He indicated he would like to continue to work short-term with owner-run businesses, chambers or other nonprofit organizations beStallman ginning later in the year. First, though, he said he’ll spend more time with his grandchildren and other family and escape the Houston heat by spending his summer in his native northern Wisconsin. Mickey Blake, Chamber chair, praised Stallman’s leadership. “He worked to build our membership and our financial health,” she said Tuesday. Blake said a search committee of the executive board has been formed to find a successor, and final candidates will be interviewed by the entire executive board. In the meantime, she said, director of member services Jacob Milwee will serve as acting president and CEO.
Editor’s Take Magnet schools re-emerge as hot topic for HISD board by Charlotte Aguilar email@example.com For some Houston ISD parents and educators last week, it wasn’t what was on the board’s agenda but what wasn’t that caught their attention. Board President Anna Eastman, who represents most Leader-area neighborhoods, yanked an agenda item before the meeting that appeared to revive a dormant debate over magnet schools and how best to manage them –– after the heated issue had remained cooled down for two years. At that time, consultants recommended that the district remove the “magnet” designation from 55 of its 113 programs, including those at Oak Forest and Travis elementaries, Hamilton Middle School, and Scarborough and Reagan high schools. The new item appeared to signal the administration’s intention to begin recommending which
see Magnet • Page 7A
Page 2A â€˘ The Leader â€˘ March 16, 2013 â€˘ @heightsleader
Your Crime Reports
HFD takes no chances First-person accounts of crimes and solutions from Leader-area social media at Heights Tower ďŹ re It turned out to be only a small fire in an apartment kitchen March 6, but because that kitchen was in a high-rise full of senior citizens and disabled, some with oxygen supplies, the call got special attention. The call from the fourth floor of the Heights House, 1950 Heights Blvd., came into the Houston Fire Department at 3:32 p.m. and was quickly elevated to two alarms â€“ which meant 110 firefighters sped to the scene along with ambulances (From Facebook) and other rescue vehicles. They made quick work of the took oďŹ€ on foot down the gully headed towards TC Jester. He was not caught. Based on his insurance card and other things found in fire, but smoke sent one man to the VA Hospital for observation the car, it doesnâ€™t look like he lives in the neighborhood. and damaged several apartments Please, please be careful out there. There is currently no barricade indicating that OF is not a through street, but 311 has been whose residents were moved to other units until theirs could be notiďŹ ed. cleaned up. March 11 Kudos were loud on social media from those who observed the From Timbergrove Manor fire departmentâ€™s response. â€œWow! We just had a breakin here in Ella Lee Forest. Here is the Nice to know they take protecting residentâ€™s msg: Our home on Del Norte was broken into today. our elderly seriously,â€? said one. The back patio glass door was broken. My husband came home at HFD spokesman Jay Evans was 2:45 to ďŹ nd this mess. All of my jewelry is gone, the whole case humble about the effort. â€œThatâ€™s was taken. Many drawers dumped and some stacked. We feel what we do, especially with a highthey were looking for gold because laptop, ipad, computer and rise fire,â€? he said.
From the Heights
This still from a video surveillance camera shows a thief taking two packages from a porch in the 1100 block of Rutland in the Heights.
So, close friends of mine had 2 packages stolen oďŹ€ their porch on Rutland yesterday afternoon around 4:30. They posted the video of the theft on the Inner Loop Houston Crime Alerts page, but here is a still photo of the jerk-- who took a kidsâ€™ board game and ďŹ sh tank supplies, which I am sure he didnâ€™t need and probably ended up in the trash somewhere. March 8
Response from a neighbor: Since this has been happening Iâ€™ve been having any packages shipped by Fed Ex sent to the Fed Ex store on Washington since the Fed Ex guy leaves them in the most visible place but the US postal guy will actually come in the wooden fence and leave packages at the door & knock, it pays to know your mailman if possible.
From Oak Forest Time to get a locking gas caps....my husbandâ€™s gas was apparently siphoned out last night...had 3/4 tank last night in a very large Ford Van and low fuel light was on this morning on the way to work. Going to see if my car got hit too. We live on Chantilly right oďŹ€ Rosslyn...crap, gas is expensive and I never thought about this happening. March 11 Anyone wondering why there were cops and wreckers at the dead end of Oak Forest? A man in a BMW came ďŹ‚ying down OF, slammed into one of our cars parked on the street knocking it into the bottom of the gully. His car ďŹ nally came to a stop against the foot bridge into Ella Lee which is now very damaged. The driver