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Saturday, September 14, 2019 • Vol. 64 • No. 37

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Senior Expo set for next Wednesday See Page 9A

From Staff Reports Wisdom, flexible schedules, senior discounts and seniority at family functions. Getting old has its perks. It can be fun, too, and The Leader has an exciting event for seniors on the horizon. The Thrive Over 55 Senior Expo, our annual event geared toward area seniors that now is in its seventh year, is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 18. It will be held from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at SPJST Lodge 88, lo-

cated at 1435 Beall St. in the Heights. The expo will give the community’s seniors a chance to connect with nearly 50 local businesses that cater to their needs,

such as those in health care, real estate, financial planning and savings, estate planning and the legal profession. Expert speakers are lined up who will offer advice

about living a fulfilling life at retirement age and how to cope with the challenges that may arise. The event also will provide information and resources to those who care for seniors or are close to being seniors themselves. More than 500 are expected to attend, and citizens of all ages are welcome. So the expo will offer the opportunity to socialize as well. Best of all? The event is free, and breakfast, lunch and drinks will be provided.

Those planning to attend are encouraged to register by calling 713-686-8494 or visiting Walk-ins also are welcome. The Senior Living Guide, which will be included in all 30,000 copies of this week’s edition of The Leader, will be distributed to every senior in attendance. We look forward to seeing you there. In the meantime, check out our Senior Living section on Page 9A.

New beginning Jason Knebel (713)232-9712 GREENWOOD KING


Photo by Adam Zuvanich Elizabeth Villareal, right, and Martha Mears listen during Monday’s Oak Forest Homeowners Association meeting.

OFHA trying to regain tax-exempt status

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By Adam Zuvanich

INSIDE. Photo by Zarah Parker John Wethington became the pastor at White Oak Baptist Church six years ago and has since led a revival of the congregation, which has been renamed New Day Church.

Young leader helps Oak Forest church reimagine itself

The board members for the Oak Forest Homeowners Association (OFHA) changed over the years. So did its mailing address and the size of its operating budget. OFHA president Elizabeth Villarreal said those factors contributed to the

By Zarah Parker Mystery man. Heights filmmaker Mel House is working on his latest movie.

Page 7A

Freak show. Mitch Cohen previews Cirque du Freak, which is scheduled for Sept. 21.

Page 10B

Bless her heart. Cassidy Kujda, who has battled Kawasaki disease, is doing better.

Page 1B

THE INDEX. Calendar/Church............................... 6A Classifieds.............................................. 6B Coupons................................................... 8B Food/Drink/Art................................10B Obituaries............................................... 6A Opinion..................................................... 5A Public Information......................... 4A Puzzles...................................................... 5A Sports......................................................... 7A

See OFHA P. 8A

White Oak Baptist Church was on the brink of closing before a revival kept its doors open. The doors closed anyway, but by choice and only to rebrand the congregation, which is now set to reopen under a new name. New Day Church will include the same regular attendees and teach the same doctrine, but the direction of the church and how it reaches out to the community has changed. Because of this change, or what lead pastor John Wethington calls a new vision, the church felt that the “season” for White Oak had ended and it was time for a “new day.” New Day Church officially debuts Sunday at 3615 Mangum Rd., where no services were held during the first two Sundays of September. “God has drawn some new people and we’ve become a new church,” Wethington said. “We wanted to invite people into that and that’s why

Bullet train moving closer to fruition By Adam Zuvanich

Contributed photo Congregants stand outside New Day Church, formerly called White Oak Baptist Church, at 3615 Mangum Rd.

we decided to restart it.” During the six years since Wethington took over as pastor of the church, it has implemented a contemporaryonly slate of Christian music into its worship service and started a pre-

school. Wethington said there are about 80 people on a waiting list for the preschool. The church also has started doing community groups at

See Train P. 8A

See Church P. 8A

Community gets up-close meeting with District C candidates By Landan Kuhlmann

As the clock struck 6:30 p.m., it seemed it might be a lost night. Eight men and women in suits and ties were mostly alone, save for a few stragglers. But when the minute hand turned to 6:31, it was as though someone flipped a switch. More than 30 community members began entering

the Heights Fire Station to see eight of the candidates for the Houston City Council’s District C seat during a meet-andgreet Tuesday night. Despite the late rush, it was laid-back environment as Abbie Kamin, Shelley Kennedy, Greg Meyers, Bob Nowak, Daphne Scarborough, Mary Jane Smith, Kevin Walker and Amanda Wolfe made their pitches to those in attendance.

The candidates are vying to succeed Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Cohen, who is reaching her term limit as District C’s council member. Heights resident David Adler attended the event in hopes of narrowing down his choice leading up to the Nov. 5 election. There are 13 candidates in the District C race. Photo by Landan Kuhlmann Houston City Council District C candidate Bob Nowak, right, talks to a constituent during a meet-and-greet Tuesday night at the Heights Fire Station.

See Council P. 8A


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THE PUBLIC. The Leader • Saturday, September 14, 2019 • Page 4A

Mother’s boyfriend also charged in death of young girl From Staff Reports Houston police have filed charges against a second suspect in the death of 5-year-old Sierra Patino, who was found dead at the Quail Creek Apartments in Northwest Houston last week. According to the Houston Police Department, 30-yearold Santiago Esparza Jr. was arrested Sept. 6 and charged with tampering with evidence, namely a human corpse. Court documents say Esparza is the boyfriend of the girl’s mother, 27-year-old Priscilla


Torres, who was charged with the same crime last week. The two allegedly hid Patino’s body

in a closet for several days after her death, according to multiple media reports. Investigators are awaiting results of an autopsy by the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences to determine Patino’s cause of death. Torres and Esparza could face additional charges in the ongoing investigation, according to HPD. Anyone with additional information on this case is urged to contact the HPD Homicide Division at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-2228477.

Suspect arrested after body found at apartment complex From Staff Reports A man suspected of beating another man to death and leaving his body in a Northwest Houston dumpster was arrested and charged with murder last weekend. The Houston Police Department said Monday that Jewel Jamal Hayward, 26, was arrested Sept. 7 and charged with murder in the 178th State District Court. He is accused of killing Shawn Palacios, 38, whose body was found in a dumpster at an apartment complex at 5625 Antoine Dr. on the morning of Sept. 4. HPD said investigators re-

taking out the trash. Police say Hayward was subsequently identified as a suspect and was located Sept. 7 in an abandoned residence at the complex.

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THE TOPICS. The Leader • Saturday, September 14, 2019 • Page 5A

Mayoral candidates all have areas to improve


ast week, I had the honor of moderating the Garden Oaks Civic Club and Super Neighborhood 12 mayoral forum, where I lost six pounds and maybe helped the 300 in attendance understand a little more about the people seeking to lead our city. First, about those six pounds: When the air conditioning stops working in an aluminum box at 6 p.m. on a September night in Houston, who needs CrossFit? And when you have eight candidates itching to pull off the perfect one-liner, most of them with little consideration for time limits, the political conversation gets hot. In the days following the forum, numerous people asked what I thought of the candidates, and up until now, I’ve given a fairly stock answer that all of them were impressive in their own way. But as your TV and social media feeds fill with campaign ads, I thought it might be fun to open up the book and tell you exactly what I think of the candidates. Who knows, maybe it will help you make the most informed decision possible when you vote – and you need to vote – on Nov. 5. Naoufal Houjami With little name recognition, and a platform that’s more about the “feels” than the policy, Houjami likely isn’t a serious contender to win many votes in this election. During his opening statement at the forum,

own skin. Kudos to Broze for that.

Jonathan McElvy Publisher

he asked us all to pause for a minute to think about the victims of gun violence (or mental health issues, depending on where you fall in that conversation). I’ll say this: Houjami is a passionate man who has a kind way about him. He’s one of the reasons people love the diversity of Houston, and I’m sold on him as a wonderful human being who speaks with his heart. As he hones his political acumen over the next few years, he’s someone who can serve our city. Derrick Broze This is an fascinating guy who very few people know. He served time in prison, admits he fought the demons of drug use, and he’s not big on government running our lives. In many circles, Broze would be considered a candidate who had no business being on stage. But if you were one of the people in attendance, you didn’t leave the forum feeling that way. He’s well-spoken, has some “interesting” ideas, and he was incredibly comfortable in his

Kendall Baker The Good Pastor doesn’t have much name recognition in Houston, though he does have voice recognition. If you’ve ever called 3-1-1, he’s the automated Siri for Houston, and he made sure we all knew it. Baker has nearly three decades of experience working in Houston, and he’s no novice to the inner-workings of Houston. For all practical purposes, he doesn’t have a chance at this election, but he’s a wonderful contributor to the city’s overall debate, and if he works hard, he’ll find a place in political service if he really wants it. Dwight Boykins The council member from District D is a lively personality with an understanding of political service, and while he’s been at odds with Turner over the handling of the firefighters’ pension issue, Boykins hasn’t found a defining issue that sets him apart from Turner’s challengers. He’s as legitimate of a candidate as there is in this race, but his campaign needs serious focus quickly. If he doesn’t find it, Boykins will pull votes from Turner, thus ensuring a run-off after the general election. I don’t believe Boykins will be in that run-off. Sue Lovell If you haven’t met Lovell, you should. As a former city council member and political consultant

Tony Buzbee For someone new to politics, Buzbee has two things mastered: A check book and organization. Long before candidates got there (while Buzbee sat outside in a cooled SUV), his team of D.C.-looking staffers scoured the forum hall. When it was time to get on stage, Buzbee did exactly what you’d expect after being inundated with his relentless media campaign. He attacked like a trial lawyer, he had prepared oneliners, and he stuck to his script. If he makes a run-off or wins, he’ll be proof that organization and money are more important than anything else in politics. I think Buzbee would be wise to look back a couple of years to a lady named Kathleen Wall, who sought to fill the seat of Ted Poe. Wall spent so much money, and filled the airwaves with non-stop promotion that people got really sick of her and she didn’t even make a run-off against eventual winner Dan Crenshaw. Just a thought.

Hacking away through life MY COMPUTER – I sensed trouble when my personal computer, or PC as we scientific types call it, kept going blank, then started playing the Croatian national anthem. It switched to recipes for mud soup, Eskimo porn, a test pattern and then locked in on “Esperanto – let’s give it a chance.” So I called on my ace PC guru, Timmy, once he was through with Little League practice. He poked around, seemingly to stop on Eskimo porn, and announced: “You’ve been hacked.” Imagine the thrill with the knowledge that from now on I could speed through school zones and demand the best table in a restaurant – with no reservations. This is because nobodies don’t get selected. Only important people, cities and the IRS get hacked. As our leader recently declared: “I am the chosen one!” OK, it is a problem. But at least I don’t have to spend mornings killing out email from Capital Bank, which has found problems with my account and needs me to send my account number and password, which I would send except that I don’t have an account with Capital Bank. Nor do I have one with Bank of America, which also had serious ID problems, and the Left Bank of the Bayou, where I do have an account except that I covered that overdraft yesterday. Then there is the Nigerian prince who has $20 million in a London bank that he will share with me if I help him withdraw it, and show my goodwill by sending him $1,000. I didn’t fall for that – at least not the third time. Maybe I shouldn’t feel too special. In 2018 there were 1.244-million hacks exposing 446.52-million documents. Hey, that’s down from 2017 when there were 1.632-million hacks but exposed only197.61-million documents. Security experts like to say that there are now only two types of companies left in the United States: those that have been hacked and those that don’t know they’ve been hacked. Some computer nerds get a bit testy over the term “hacker,” a meaning that has changed. They point out that the term “computer hacker” first showed up in the mid-1960s. A hacker was a programmer -- someone who hacked out computer codes. Wrote one defender: “Hackers were visionaries who could see new ways to use computers, creating programs that no one else could conceive.” Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak were all hackers.

Lynn Ashby Columnist

Today the word conjures up some 16-year-old in his Frankfurt basement messing with his computer to see who he (it’s always a he) can freak out. Or, more sinister, an untraceable gang in the Ukraine that is in the ransomware biz. More than 70 state and local governments have been hit with ransomware so far in 2019, including 23 municipal governments in Texas. So if your water bill is late, or totals $400,000, you know you live in one of those towns. Lake City, Florida, paid nearly $500,000 in June following a ransomware attack, just a week after Riviera Beach, Florida, paid more than $600,000 after officials figured that was the only way to recover the city’s files. In March, $400,000 was paid by Jackson County, Georgia, to get back its systems following a ransomware infection. Outside the U.S., an attack in Johannesburg, South Africa, led to blackouts when the city-owned electric utility experienced outages as a result of the ransomware attack. I don’t know if they paid, but the next time you visit Johannesburg, see if your hotel lights work. You don’t have to pay off, but it’s expensive. Baltimore was attacked in 2018, but paid no ransom. Recovery costs came to $18 million. The U.S. government lives in fear that hackers will break into all sorts of federal agencies, shutting down air traffic, NOAA hurricane watches and – like Johannesburg – electric grids. Their fears are real. We must assume that right now there are gremlins in the Kremlin busily decoding FBI reports, the identity of CIA spies and confidential tweets from the White House. (“Stormy, come back.”) And don’t worry about the results of the 2020 presidential election. Putin’s People already have the results – Trump by a landslide. The one exception to hacking secrets the Trump administration approves of is the files, messages and secret info of the Democratic National Committee. That is not only permitted but encouraged – again. Don’t believe the 2020 Census results, either. For the upcoming headcount, the Census Bureau is relying heavily on

computers for the tally. You may discover there are 22 people living in your house that you don’t know about. All of this hacking has coined a new term and a new profession: cybersecurity. It’s now a big biz, mainly because it doesn’t work. (An anti-hacking company in Atlanta was, uh, hacked.) Universities now greet cybersecurity students with a choice: you can either be a hacker or an anti-hacker. Interestingly enough, the hotbed for cybersecurity is, obviously, San Antonio. Between the U.S. Army and UT-San Antonio, every expert in the field is flocking to the Alamo City. The most common way to get into your computer is through email. Don’t open any suspicious messages, such as one from Ransomware ‘R Us, Hackers, Inc. or from your Uncle Mongoose

Bill King If there’s a statesman in this field of candidates, King is that guy. At the forum, he was cool and calm – maybe even a little too cool and calm. But if King were in my office seeking advice, I’d tell him to get really focused on issues, and stop with the pay-to-play talk (Buzbee could stand the same advice). The reality in politics is those elected give special consideration to the people who supported a campaign, and my perception is people are tired of hearing about pay-to-play. King also needs to separate himself from Buzbee – not Turner. He has a chance to make another run-off, but he’s not going to make it if he doesn’t shift his focus away from Turner.

over the past few years, this lady knows as much about the operation of our city as any person on the stage. Lovell probably doesn’t have enough campaign money to blast the airwaves, and in some ways, that’s too bad. Lovell is a voice of reason. She has no frills about her, and if she doesn’t win this election, we’ll be better off if she remains active in public service.

if you don’t have an uncle named Mongoose. If you do, you have a weird family. I can’t figure out who or how hackers got into my computer. I never open any mail I don’t recognize, although the hackers have become so sophisticated that they can actually lift names from your address list and use them. So if in doubt, don’t open any email. Stop whining. What did you do, how did you communicate, before email? Just to be safe, demand letters, good ol’ ink and paper. Chances are you won’t be receiving any mail at all. One German intelligence agency has found a way to avoid being a target: for its most sensitive documents it uses typewriters and carbon paper. Ashby is hacked at

Sylvester Turner No matter how you feel about Mayor Turner, the man understands how politics work. For the most part, he’s being attacked by Buzbee and King with one-liners, and Turner just as quickly retorts with his own oneliners that stick just as well. And in a Twitter-verse of politics, Turner’s quick responses are plenty to fend off most of his challengers. In order to win a second term, I’m not sure Turner needs to do much else than limit the votes Boykins takes from him, trade jabs with Buzbee and King, and keep doing what he’s doing. Email

THE READER. It’s history: popular deli closes after 30-year run

Dear Editor: I worked at Carter & Cooley for five years from 1995 to 2000. It was a fun place to work. Neil and Doug Scot were great bosses. Though I do not live in Houston any longer I am sad to hear it is closed. My family who lives in Houston liked eating there. Have safe travels Neil. Thomas Harmon Dear Editor: The world is forever changing and nothing will ever be the same. When you gotta go, you gotta go Welcome to the futures past. Henji

Coyote sightings have rattled residents

Dear Editor: They go after people’s pets. One was attacked in Katy in the back yard. The coyote got over the fence. Thankfully pup wasn’t hurt too badly but still very scary. Leighanne Dear Editor: While not mentioned in this very comprehensive piece, coyotes will also thrive by eating house cats – feral or domestic.

Email us your letters: Please keep your cats inside, particularly at night. Kim Hogstrom

Dog shot to death amidst animal altercation in Heights

Dear Editor: An aggressive dog off leash can be a danger to other animals, as well as children and adults. We humans don’t understand all the things that drive animals to act the ways they do, which is why we have laws about fences and leashes. I’m sorry a dog was killed, but I have to side with the dog-walker on this one. Ed Menger

Acres Homes family may be fighting losing battle against proposed concrete batch plant

Dear Editor: I feel too often our communities are the direct hit of anything goes because our complaints are not taken seriously we are told just enough to silence us and nothing gets done until election time and that isn’t much I feel for Donna and Anita something needs to happen sooner than later. Brenda

the leader Puzzlers. Answers found in this week’s Classified section


aCrOss 1. Power measurement 4. Christian hip-hop duo 7. Licensed for Wall Street 10. Belonging to us 11. Anger 12. They __ 13. Ribonuclease 15. Former AC/DC singer Scott 16. Fate 19. Hall of Fame forward 21. Omission 23. American state 24. Not sunrises 25. British school 26. The boundary of a surface 27. Young women 30. Sitting 34. Canadian cheese 35. Aussie TV station 36. Resembles rummy 41. Baked good 45. Gravy is a type of one 46. About aviation 47. Unit of data size 50. Rugged mountain ranges

54. With three uneven sides 55. Cut or carve 56. It can be benign 57. One’s mother (Brit.) 59. Conrad __, American poet 60. Midway between northeast and east 61. Before 62. Originally called 63. Former broadcaster Barber 64. Not pale 65. Not even

dOwn 1. Surfers need one 2. Eskimo dogs 3. Bishop 4. People of Libya 5. In favor of 6. Origins 7. Ingredients 8. Trumpets and trombones 9. Large nest 13. Baseball stat 14. Leavened bread 17. Bon __: witty remark 18. Belgian municipality

20. Reactive structure 22. Methaqualone pill (slang) 27. Medical practitioner 28. Alias 29. Someone 31. 007’s creator 32. Martial artists wear one 33. Midway between north and northeast 37. Edible mollusk 38. ___ up: quit a substance 39. Taiwanese city 40. Make an effort 41. Fielders 42. Restrain 43. Herb 44. Agonized 47. Time zone 48. Abandoned European money 49. Plays video games 51. Hit well in baseball (slang) 52. Expresses good wishes 53. Congressman (abbr.) 58. Small constellation


Page 6A • Saturday, September 14, 2019 • The Leader


furniture with chalk paint. The Houston Junior Forum Resale shop will hold a 2-hour chalk painting class conducted by Ann McCarrroll for $15 on Thursday, Sept. 19 from noon to 2 p.m. Register in advance by calling 713-868-6970.

Matthew Sweet Friday, Sept. 13 6 p.m. The Heights Theater – 339 W. 19th St. Matthew Sweet is performing at The Heights Theater.

Barbecue                                                             Saturday, Sept. 14                                            Noon until run out American Legion Post 560 3720 Alba Rd. Come out for some delicious barbecue. Ribs, brisket, sausage and chicken with all the trimmings will be served. Call 713864-0757 for information.

Al Di Meola Sunday, Sept. 15 7 p.m. The Heights Theater – 339 W. 19th St. Al Di Meola is performing at The Heights Theater. Chris Knight Thursday, Sept. 19 8 p.m. The Heights Theater – 339 W. 19th St. Chris Knight is performing at The Heights Theater. Tunes in the Tap Room Tuesday, Sept. 17 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. Harold’s Restaurant & Tap Room – 350 W. 19th St. Enjoy live music in Harold’s Tap Room every Tuesday night. Mdou Moctar Friday, Sept. 13 7 p.m. White Oak Music Hall – 2915 N. Main St. Mdou Moctar is performing at White Oak Music Hall with Boogarins. Tinariwen Friday, Sept. 13 8 p.m. White Oak Music Hall – 2915 N. Main St. Tinariwen is performing at White Oak Music Hall with Lonnie Holley. The Rocket Summer Saturday, Sept. 14 7:30 p.m. White Oak Music Hall – 2915 N. Main St. The Rocket Summer is performing at White Oak Music Hall with Royal Teeth. Shonen Knife Monday, Sept. 16 7 p.m. White Oak Music Hall – 2915 N. Main St. Shonen Knife is performing at White Oak Music Hall with Me Like Bees. Senses Fail Tuesday, Sept. 17 6:30 p.m. White Oak Music Hall – 2915 N. Main St. Senses Fail is performing at White Oak Music Hall. Half Alive Wednesday, Sept. 18 8 p.m. White Oak Music Hall – 2915 N.

Matthew Sweet, along with special guest Vanessa Peters, will be perfoming Friday night, at The Heights Theater, 339 W. 19th St.

Al Di Meola will be perfoming Saturday, Sept. 14, at The Heights Theater, 339 W. 19th St.

Main St. Half Alive is performing at White Oak Music Hall with Sure Sure.

St. Stephen’s Events Tuesday, Sept. 24 5:30 – 7 p.m. St. Stephen’s UMC – 2003 West 43rd St. Messy Church, an interactive worship service for all ages will be held Sept. 24 in the fellowship hall. Admission is free and includes dinner for the family. The theme this month will be “The Miracles of Jesus�. For more information, call the office at 713-686-8241, or visit www. and the church’s Facebook page.

Ceremony Thursday, Sept. 19 7 p.m. White Oak Music Hall – 2915 N. Main St. Ceremony is performing at White Oak Music Hall with Giltterer and Narrow Head.

gathers local talented artisans, farmers, and entrepreneurs to bring you closer to the goods you need. Stop by to shop and stay to brunch, drink mimosas, and listen to live music at Onion Creek.

Tank And The Bangas Thursday, Sept. 19 7 p.m. White Oak Music Hall – 2915 N. Main St. Tank And The Bangas is performing at White Oak Music Hall with Alfred Banks.

The Market at Sawyer Yards Saturday, Sept. 14 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. 1502 Sawyer St. The Market at Sawyer Yards is a curated open-air market that hosts a mix of artist mediums with a focus on folk art, the maker is the seller, artisan crafts & specialty foods. Situated on a former rail line in the heart of the Arts District Houston and surrounded by the highest concentration of working artists in all of Texas.

The Markets

The Pews

Eleanora’s Market Saturday, Sept. 14 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Cavatore – 2120 Ella Blvd. There will be local growers, makers, designers, artisans and food producers.

Women’s Bible Study Group Monday, Sept. 16 5:30 p.m. YMCA –1234 W. 34th St. The Women’s Bible Study meets every Monday at the Harriet and Joe Foster YMCA. The study is called The Faithful, which explores crucial moments in the lives of five Old Testament figures--Queen Esther, Gideon, Hosea, Malachi, and Nehemiah. Guests and new members are welcome to attend this nondenominational Bible study. Email scripturesharing@earthlink. net for information.

Little White Oak Night Market Saturday, Sept. 14 4 – 8 p.m. Sideout Volleybar – 2623 Keene St. The Little White Oak Night Market brings together local farmers, craft merchandisers, and artists. The Farm Stand at Petrol Station Saturday, Sept. 14 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. 948 Wakefield Dr. The Farm Stand at Petrol Station features goods from local vendors. Heights Morning Market Sunday, Sept. 15 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. 3106 White Oak Dr. Heights Morning Market

Fun & Games Clue the Movie Friday, Sept. 13 8 – 10 p.m. Petrol Station – 985 Wakefield CineWhim & The Whimsy Artisan Boutique presents the free Friday night screening of Clue the Movie at Petrol Station. Open Mic Night Tuesday, Sept. 17 9 p.m. Heights Vinyl – 3301 Cline St. This is a free flowing, “tap in,� share the mic event where everyone is welcome. The Houston Genealogical Forum Saturday, Sept. 14 10 a.m.-noon Bayland Community Center (Annex) - 6400 Bissonnet The Houston Genealogical Forum Presents: Victoria Woo and Estate Planning for Genealogists. The presentation will include information about the preservation and transfer of digital data and DNA. Come early, munchies and mingling begins at 9 a.m. Visitors are welcome. Meetings are held monthly and feature guest speakers. Visit for information.

Men’s Scripture Sharing Group Thursday, Sept. 19 7 a.m. YMCA –1234 W. 34th St. The Men’s Scripture Sharing Group meets every Thursday at the Harriet and Joe Foster YMCA. There will be music, Bible study and fellowship. Guests and new members are welcome to attend this non-denominational Bible study. Email scripturesharing@ for information.

19th Street Wine Walk

THE OBITUARIES. Linda Mae Cashiola, 70,

born June 13, died on Sept. 7.

Betsy Ann Grothers, 83, born Aug. 19, died on Sept. 3. She is survived by a daughter Susan E. Moreland; son Scott B. Moreland and wife Mona; son Sidney S. Moreland, IV and wife Desiree; granddaughter Virginia Moreland McMullen and husband Will; great grandchildren Elizabeth,

Vivienne, and William McMullen, Jr.; and brother David E. Crothers and wife Barbara.

Alton Gaylon Hayes, 71, born Oct. 4, died on Sept. 4. Eileen J. Leedy, 94, born

Dec. 1, died on Sept 3. Eileen is survived by her daughter-inlaw, Brenda Young Leedy; her granddaughter, Joi Young; Leafy

Doris Murphy, 90, born April 7, died on Sept. 5. She is survived by her son Kenneth Murphy and wife Kay, daughter Darlene Mitchell and husband Buddy, daughter Donna Holder and husband

on Sept. 7. He is survived by his wife, Aurora of 41 years, daughters Nidya Cristiana Santillan and Giuliana Palumbo; and grandchildren Giovanni Santillan and Diego Santillan.Â

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Waltrip High School Class of 1979 Saturday, Oct. 5 Thursday Night Bingo 7 p.m. – 11 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19 The Whitehall Hotel – 1700 5:15 p.m. Smith St. SPJST Lodge 88 - 1435 Beall St. The Waltrip High School Class Bingo at SPJST Lodge 88 is held of 1979 40th Reunion is this every Thursday night. Bingo pads October. Please make your check are $10 each. Doors open at 5:15 payable to Waltrip Class of 79 for p.m. Bingo begins at 7:00 p.m. $60 per person before September 15 is you plan to attend. Mail Chalk Painting Class at Houston your check to: Lisa Trigg Mendel, Junior Forum Resale Shop                                                                   PO Box 16611, Houston, TX Thursday, Sept. 19                                                                                                           77222. If your name has changed Noon – 2 p.m. since high school, please include 1815 Rutland St. your high school name with your Learn how to enhance your payment.

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e are entering a time of holidays and celebrations for many people in our country. Thanksgiving is This aweek marks theaseighteenth anniversary of holiday that we Americans have enjoyed for 9/11. The events that transpired that to day will be generations. Many people are looking on forward time spent remembered byoffmany who watched afar football, and by with family, time from work, a big feast,from watching many who directsales connections withand andprobably relationships catching thehad biggest of the years, many with who experienced the tragedy otherspeople things during this Thanksgiving weekend.first-hand. There will beI am thankful thatwill many people put the aside differences and some people who struggle during this time of holiday as theytogether remember onesone whoanother they have or close came to loved console andlost, to look for companions thatawful are unable be together because the answers to the hatredtothat manifested itselfofthat schedule or the logistics. Either way, Thanksgiving will be day. In the book of Nehemiah, we see the work that thea time whenofpeople thinking happyIn thoughts sad children Israel are did either to rebuild the wall. chapterorsix it thoughts says thatabout they something. completed the work in just fifty-two days. WhenisI was boy, I remember my mother saying, This an aincredible witness to their unity“Don’t and forget work to say thank Shethe waswork reminding me to be thankful my ethic. Evenyou.� though was completed and ittowas grandmother thethat wonderful Thanksgiving to my clearly God’sfor help allowed them to domeal, it so or quickly, family member that gave me a special gift, or to my friend who the enemies did not give up. In the last few words of invited me to their birthday party. Most people want to teach chapter six, the Bible says, “and Tobiah sent letters to their children to be thankful. I think most people would agree put me in fear.� The enemies continued to come after that being thankful is important, it is also true that it is not Nehemiah after the people of Israel. Theythrough. didn’t always to be and thankful depending on what we are going quit and they didn’t give up trying to defeat the people The Bible says in Ephesians 5:20 “Giving thanks always for all of God. things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus I hope the message will encourage to Christ.� I would encouragethis you,week no matter how you feelyou during stay faithful, and totorefuse to give There tragedies this holiday season remember that can are be thankful to that place around us to and our lives. There are God. take He gave up His only Son diein a cruel death on the cross difficult circumstances thatcan webeface on aofregular basis. so that anyone who trusts him forgiven their sins and God andlife. willDon’t giveforget the victory. Don’t give up! When have can eternal to say thank you! If you would discuss this further or have questions, He does helplike youtoto overcome something, realize that Pastorwill Will still Cover be reached Arise Baptist Church at there becan attacks. God at will never leave you or 803 Curtin St., Walk or, 713-659-9697. forsake you. with Him and follow HisorWord. If you walk with God you will experience victory. It may not be in the way you expect or in the time frame that you want, but God always wins! Don’t give up!

The Leader • Saturday, September 14, 2019 • Page 7A

Project presents new mystery for Heights filmmaker By Betsy Denson

Heights filmmaker Mel House jokes that he blacked out and when he woke up, he had the script for his newest film, “Mystery Spot.” “It came really easy,” House said of the script, which he wrote four years ago and recently finished shooting in Hempstead. Some former collaborators came on board for the project. Lisa Wilcox of two of the “Nightmare on Elm Street” films has a starring role in the movie, as does Graham Skipper, who most recently appeared in the horror film “Bliss,” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. A mystery spot is a gravity influenced visual illusion, the most famous of which is a tourist attraction near Santa Cruz, California. Called a “gravity box” or “tilted house,” visitors experience confusion with regard to the height and orientation of objects. “It’s not a gore fest,” House said of his movie. “It’s more like an old-school ‘Twilight Zone.’ ” For the past two weeks, the

actors and crew, including many from Los Angeles, have been staying at the Hempstead Country Inn, which is also the location for the movie. House and his crew are working from 7 a.m-7 p.m. for 12 days, including two overnights, to complete the shoot. “They are a bunch of really talented people,” House said. “It is easier to do movies like this (in Texas), and cheaper.” The last horror film House wrote and directed was 2010’s Psychic Experiment, or Walking Distance as it is also known. It was filmed in Texas City, Houston and the Strand in Galveston and picked up by Lions Gate Entertainment for U.S. DVD release, followed by releases in Japan, Germany, and Saudi Arabia. House wrote “Imago” with Chris Warren who also directed that movie in 2009. And in 2007, House directed “Closet Space,” written by Jason Stewart, and starring wife Melanie Donihoo. The new movie is part of an evolution of sorts for House, who is father to an elementary school daughter – Regan, who has a small role in “Mystery Spot.” “The older I get, the more

Photo by Betsy Denson Heights filmmaker Mel House, right, works on the set for his newest film, “Mystery Spot.”

I experience life and it goes back into my work,” House said. Lyle Kanouse, who is one of the movie’s producers along with wife Audrey Wasilewski, said they were drawn to the project because of the story and the characters. Kanouse helped flesh out an early version of the script.

“It has a great story,” Kanouse said. “It’s kind of like a David Lynch-style telling of things. It’s really fun and just kind of resonates.” Kanouse appeared in nine national tours of Broadway shows and also appeared with Annette Bening, Alfred Molina and Frances Fisher in “The Cherry Orchard” in the mid-

2000s. Wasilewski appeared in the films “RED,” “What Women Want” and “My Life as a Teenage Robot.” House said he had a good working relationship with both them from previous projects. As producers of a movie like “Mystery Spot,” Kanouse and Wasilewski fulfill a multitude of jobs. Wasilewski is also working as a costumer and in a craft services capacity. Kanouse said they are fulfilling an artistic role as well. “(Mel) told us he needed creative people he could trust to offer input and critique,” Kanouse said. “We’d never tell a director what to do. We’re just another set of eyes.” When he is not making feature films, House’s production company makes video projects for commercial clients as well as produces and provides support and equipment for several independent shorts and music videos. House grew up in Northwest Houston and attended Oak Forest Elementary, Ruby Sue Clifton Middle School and Scarborough High School. Another local tie to “Mystery Spot” are two of its actors. Julie Osterman works in

local theatre and also directs children’s plays and musicals. She’s been in two music videos with House and he asked her to be in “Mystery Spot.” She plays Tracy, an aspiring actress, who gets into something she really doesn’t understand. “I have learned so much from Graham (Skipper) and Lisa (Wilcox) in terms of acting for film,” Osterman said. “The entire cast and crew has been so welcoming. It’s also been so interesting to hear the stories of how they became involved in this project, whether they’re fellow Texans or hail from Los Angeles, Canada and even Australia. It’s like Seven Degrees of Mel House.” Osterman’s 9-year old daughter and Oak Forest Elementary fourth grader, Emma, also plays her daughter in the movie. “It was fun to meet new people and to see how a movie is made,” Emma said. “I’ve been in a lot of plays, but I’ve never been in a movie. It’s really different. In a movie, you keep on doing the scene until you get it right. But in a play, you do it once and that’s it. I’m really excited to see how it turns out.”


HISD trustees vote for appeal LHN wins coach’s debut, Spartans show signs of life of Wheatley’s failing grade By Landan Kuhlmann

By Adam Zuvanich

Following a trying opening weekend, the second week of football season bore a little more fruit for area high schools, with multiple teams scoring victories. One kicked off its season and its coach’s career with a bang, another squared its record and four remained on the prowl for their first victories of the season as the calendar turns to Week 3. Lutheran High North and Scarborough emerged victorious against Sabine Pass and KIPP Generations Collegiate, respectively, to highlight the weekend for area teams. Meanwhile, Heights, St. Thomas, St. Pius X and Waltrip dropped their second consecutive games to start 2019 and will look to jump start their seasons next week. LHN used a balanced attack to clobber Sabine Pass, which forfeited six of its eight scheduled games in a winless 2018 season, by a score of 58-0 last Friday night to open Shaun Stephens’ maiden voyage as a head coach. In his first varsity start, sophomore quarterback Owen Poole completed 12 of 18 passes for 222 yards and four touchdowns, spreading the ball around to five different targets. Senior Will Harris led the receiving corps with three catches for 108 yards, including a 69-yard scoring strike from Poole to give LHN a 20-0 advantage in the first quarter. “(Owen) was incredibly calm and didn’t get rattled the entire game,” Stephens said. “He was asking to run all these different types of plays, and that was awesome to see.” The Lions racked up 453 total yards, thanks in part to dominating offensive line play – led by senior Travis Malkowsky – that paved the way for 231 yards on the ground. Three different players tallied at least 60 rushing yards and a touchdown in the victory. “Those guys were abusing the defensive line,” Stephens said. “(Malkowsky) was 30-40 yards downfield knocking guys down like bowl-

A Houston ISD administrator said the district could not find any grounds to successfully appeal the state accountability rating for Wheatley High School, which received a seventh consecutive failing grade last month from the Texas Education Agency. HISD’s trustees, whose future is in jeopardy because of Wheatley’s continued academic struggles, want the district to appeal anyway. At a Sept. 5 meeting of the HISD Board of Education, the trustees voted 7-1 to instruct interim superintendent Grenita Lathan to appeal Wheatley’s grade of 59 – one point shy of a passing report. In a Sept. 3 letter to HISD, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said state law would require him to close the Wheatley campus or replace the HISD trustees with a board of managers if the school’s preliminary accountability rating did not improve to a passing score by the time it becomes final. Morath said an appeal likely would be resolved in December, at which point the grade would be finalized. “We’re already at the end of the rope as some would say it, so I’m not afraid to keep going if it has to do for kids,” Diana Davila, HISD’s

Photo from St. Pius X A St. Pius X ballcarrier breaks through the line during the Panthers’ spring game earlier this year. SPX will look to get off the mat this week.

ing pins.” The Lions also showed a strong defensive effort, holding the Sharks to minus-5 total yards for the game while forcing two turnovers and notching four sacks. Junior linebacker Robert Alston led the way with seven tackles and a sack. Meanwhile, Scarborough knocked off KIPP Generations Collegiate 33-20, scoring its first victory in nearly a calendar year and evening its 2019 record at 1-1. The Spartans will try for their first winning streak and first multi-win season since 2007 when they travel to face Brookshire Royal this week. Below is the scoreboard for games involving area teams and next week’s schedule for area schools. Last Week’s Scores Sept. 5 Kingwood Park 42, Waltrip 13 Scarborough 33, KIPP Generations Collegiate 20 Sept. 6 New Caney 48, Heights 20 Lutheran High North 58, Sabine Pass 0 La Marque 26, St. Pius X 13 Needville 35, St. Thomas 34


board president, said during the Sept. 5 meeting. The lone dissenting vote came from Jolanda Jones, who is not seeking reelection this year. She said an appeal should not be filed on behalf of the trustees and that giving Lathan such a directive would violate governance procedures. Rhonda Skillern-Jones, one of two HISD trustees representing area schools, was not present and did not vote. The other trustee representing area schools is Elizabeth Santos. Carla Stevens, HISD’s assistant superintendent of research and accountability, said during the school-board meeting that district administrators had “scrubbed everything we possibly could” in an attempt to find a valid reason

to appeal Wheatley’s grade and did not find one. Santos suggested Hurricane Harvey, which flooded much of Houston near the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, contributed to Wheatley’s substandard performance. Wheatley and every other HISD campus received a special waiver from accountability ratings for the 2017-18 school year. The TEA did not grant such a waiver for the 2018-19 school year and, according to Morath’s letter, had previously indicated that the 2017 and 2019 grades would be considered consecutive. House Bill 1842, enacted by the Texas Legislature in 2015, requires the Texas Education Commissioner to close a campus or replace its district’s trustees with a board of managers if a public school receives five consecutive failing grades. On Aug. 15, the day the TEA released its 2018-19 accountability ratings for every school and district in Texas, three state legislators said Morath should leave Wheatley open and replace the HISD board. Morath didn’t say which way he was leaning in his letter. He ended it by in saying that if Wheatley’s final grade is an F, he “will notify the district of my specific decision in future correspondence.”

Neighbors: Aguilar relishing new role at Waltrip By Elizabeth Villarreal

I am thrilled to introduce you to Doris Aguilar, our neighbor in Pinemont Plaza and Waltrip High School’s new Parent Engagement Representative. Doris is married to Raul Aguilar and they have three daughters: Karla, 16, a junior at Waltrip; Katelynn, 11, and Kamila, 6, both of whom attend Katherine Smith Elementary. The family enjoys volunteering in their community and with their church family. After getting to know Waltrip last school year during her daughter Karla’s sophomore year, Doris was interested in becoming more involved at the school. She applied for the Parent Engagement Representative position and was hired by Houston ISD. The main focus of the Parent Engagement Representative is to act as a liaison between the parent-teacher association (PTA), parents, community and the school as well as providing a positive connection and line of communication, building stronger relationships with parents, community and business partners as well as providing parents with information and assistance when needed. Doris sees herself as the middle man, funneling information where it needs to go, be it from PTA to school administrators, parents needing assistance or with the community so that community partners can join in the revitalization of Waltrip. She pro-

vides a conduit for success so that information going out to parents and community as well as information coming in the opposition direction, inquiries and needs of parents and community are funneled to the right parties. Finding answers, providing and directing people to the right resources and facilitating positive interaction is a full-time endeavor for Doris, and she is loving her new position. Another of Doris’ duties is to oversee the Parents on Patrol, or “POP” program. Parents may sign up through VIPS and donate an hour or two and monitor the hallways. Several districts are applying POPs on their campuses. She is also developing a new campus newsletter, which will be full of information and contain news of upcoming events to be distributed on Fridays after school and in the pickup line. Born in El Salvador, Doris moved to America when she was 5. Far from using her family’s early struggles as an excuse for anything less than success, Doris and her husband have worked hard to create and live their best life. She is in the unique position of understanding exactly what some of Waltrip’s students and parents have gone through, what some of their struggles may be today, and she is able to be a beacon of light and example of what America is all about. While she is absolutely, beautifully articulate in English, Doris’ ability to


speak fluent Spanish is so very important in communicating with parents who do not speak English and she is connecting with Spanish-speaking parents in a way Waltrip has desperately needed for the last decade. After a recent “Coffee With The Principal,” a new and monthly event occurring twice in one day to provide all parents a time slot that can work with their schedules in order to be more connected with the school and principal Michael Niggli, parents were asked what their top needs are. In order of importance, the parents responded: 1) CPR class, 2) ESL classes and 3) computer classes. Doris is working to make these classes a reality for any parents interested. After raising children for 10 years, Doris re-entered the working world.

She and her husband decided it was time for Doris to begin realizing her dreams and she is now a college student as well as a mother and Waltrip employee. She received her associate’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and is currently enrolled at the University of Houston’s Main Campus and is working toward a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Doris’ personal goal is to acquire her degree and pursue a career as a school counselor or wraparound specialist in HISD. For now, she is blooming where she is planted and hopes to stay and grow with Waltrip. Doris feels blessed and shared she feels she has been placed right where she is supposed to be. She looks forward to heading to the Waltrip campus each morning. Doris shared, “My goal as the Parent Engagement Representative is to bring awareness to our parents and community of the wonderful resources and programs Waltrip has to offer. I want to help parents become more involved in their child’s education and learning in this digital era. In this disconnected world as a parent it is our priority to be vigilant and protect our children no matter their age. We have to be involved in knowing what courses and credits our children need to graduate high school and all the trade opportunities available to them now and in their college career.” With a daughter at the school who loves having her mother on campus, Doris is uniquely positioned to understand where parents of high school-

ers might have needs or questions. She is also actively reaching out to teachers, staff and administrators to create more pathways for communication and success. Doris has enjoyed learning about Waltrip’s history, meeting alumni and parents and is very positive about the future of the school, which as it turns out, was her “dream school” when she was a teenager. Originally zoned to Heights High School, Doris attended Northbrook in Spring Branch ISD after her family moved, but had always dreamed of attending Waltrip. Now she has the opportunity to make a difference in her dream school on a daily basis! If you would like to reach out to Doris for information about Waltrip, including all the exciting things in place and those coming, you can find her in her office in the Parent Engagement Center or email her at doris. Mark your calendar! The Shepherd Forest Civic Club invites you to participate in its City Council Candidates Forum for candidates who are running in District A and District C at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 16 in the cafeteria at Waltrip High School, 1900 W. 34th St. After brief opening statements, candidates will be available to meet individually and answer questions from those attending the forum. Don’t miss this chance to visit up close and personal with your favorite candidates!

Page 8A • Saturday, September 14, 2019 • The Leader

Church, from P. 1A home. Community groups are small groups of church members who meet during the week, sharing a meal and fellowship with each other. Before becoming a community group leader for New Day Church, Rico Rodriguez had been a resident in the neighborhood for 22 years. He said he had driven by the church countless times but was never inspired to look within. When Rodriguez got married three years ago, he and his wife looked for a church they could call home. “White Oak made sense as a natural place to start because of its proximity to our home,” Rodriguez said. “I quickly saw and felt that something special was going on here. Pastor John’s conviction for this church and this community is so contagious that we basically jumped on board this mission as soon as possible.” While it’s been hard to accept changes, Wethington said those changes have allowed the church to come back to life. “I think that whenever you have not grown in 40 years, you get set in some of your ways,” Wethington said. “I think people really want the church to grow and they want to reach new people in their mind, but the changes that it takes to make that happen can be difficult.” What has also helped the church is its method of outreach. Wethington said he realized it’s

hard to get the church to believe it can still reach people in a secular, unchurched culture. “You have to really put yourself out there. That’s number one,” Wethington said. “People are just so disconnected with church and anything spiritual, I think more than ever you have to get the word out there.” The way the church does that is marketing and outreach through social media, mailers, keeping its website up to date and providing invite cards for its members to pass out. “You just have to create some noise out there, otherwise people will just drive by you and ignore you,” Wethington said. From dying to revived Wethington, 30, grew up attending White Oak and after college found his way back to the church, which he described as being in poor condition at the time. The sanctuary had even been shut down, and services were held in the gymnasium. “I became the pastor by default, because I was actually serving as the associate pastor,” Wethington said. “The previous pastor, he moved on. It was actually really good. I was 24 years old when I become the pastor and, honestly, it was kind of cool because it was in such rough shape that it was kind of like, ‘Let’s just see what we can do and try our best.’” Under his leadership, one of the first things the church did to take a

Photo by Zarah Parker John Wethington is the 30-year-old pastor at New Day Church, formerly called White Oak Baptist Church, at 3615 Mangum Rd.

step forward was remodel the sanctuary. During the first two years Wethington served as pastor, attendance on Sunday was running around 80 people, with members being primarily older. The church has since seen yearly growth, which Wethington attributed to prayer, preaching and caring for people in the community. “Basically what happened was the church kind of began to grow, and then a year ago the only way I can describe it is that God began to reveal to us almost like something new had been birthed, like we didn’t bring the old things back,” Wething-

ton said. “And so it just felt like we were this new church that happened to inherit this building and we had some of the same people, myself included.” The name change is part of that new identity, along with telling people familiar with White Oak that New Day isn’t the same church. Wethington proposed his vision for New Day to the church last October. He said it was nerve-wracking to go up on stage and tell the congregation that White Oak should close and a new church with a new name should take its place. That included taking “Baptist” out of the

name, which he said was done to get away from the stigma some Baptist churches have. “People were so caught off guard because it was going really well. I think we had almost tripled attendance in five years,” Wethington said. “Usually you do that when it’s not going well, but it’s just what God called us to do and it was undeniable.” Wethington said the idea passed with around 92 percent in favor. Still, he said the change has been difficult for some church members. Ultimately, New Day is embracing the idea of letting go of its past in order to step into its future. “The restart is important to us to bring in new ideas to reach the community around us that is itself going through a restart,” said Alecia Yandell, who has attended church at the building for 38 years. “The people around us are searching and the best way to love them is where you know them.” While the church has maintained its older crowd, they are no longer the primary attendees. Now, Wethington said the congregation is diverse both in age and ethnicity. “I believe our church represents what’s happening in Oak Forest in general,” Wethington said. “A lot of new people are moving in. A majority of the new people that are a part of the church, almost all are new to the neighborhood.”

OFHA, from P. 1A HOA’s failure to file required tax forms with the Internal Revenue Service, leading to the revocation of the nonprofit organization’s tax-exempt status. The OFHA is attempting to restore its tax exemption while taking steps to ensure a Form 990, an annual financial report for nonprofits, is filed on time in future years. The OFHA, which enforces deed restrictions and operates for the betterment of the historic Northwest Houston neighborhood, did not file 990s from 2014-18. After the filing deadline in 2017, its taxexempt status was automatically revoked by the IRS. Villarreal said board members did not realize the taxexempt status had been revoked until February of this year, when then-treasurer Jeff Holmes made the discovery about one month into his tenure. Villarreal said not filing the forms appears to have been an innocent oversight on the part of previous board members, all of whom are volunteers. “I guess they didn’t know what to do,” she said. What impact has losing its tax-exempt status had on the OFHA and the neighborhood it serves, which includes more than 5,000 homes? How will Oak Forest be affected moving forward? The consequences have been minimal and likely will continue to be, according to Villarreal and two other board

members, who cited conversations they’ve had with OFHA attorney John Barnes and the IRS. The board members said the homeowners association has functioned normally over the years and recently taken actions to resolve the tax issue and prevent it from recurring, including hiring a third-party bookkeeper, drafting a fiscal policy that details the financial responsibilities of the HOA and its officers, and filing the 990 forms for tax years 201418 within the last few months. The OFHA plans to add the fiscal policy to its bylaws at next month’s general member meeting, after which it will submit a Form 1024A to the IRS. The form will request that the organization’s tax-exempt status be retroactively restored effective May 15, 2017, the date it was revoked. “(Barnes) seems to think it’s nothing,” longtime board member Martha Mears said. “It will all be taken care of.” The OFHA also will submit a reasonable cause statement to the IRS detailing why the 990 forms were not filed on time as well as the measures it is taking to ensure the forms will be promptly submitted in the future. The reasonable cause statement presented to members Monday night said the OFHA did not file the 990 forms because of bookkeeping deficiencies, an address change that caused it to not receive notifications from the

Photo by Adam Zuvanich Oak Forest residents gather Monday for a monthy meeting of the Oak Forest Homeowners Association.

meeting, including the board members, said they were worried about the OFHA losing its tax-exempt status. And when prompted to ask questions about the matter, none of them did. “It’s kind of water under the bridge,” said Oak Forest resident Frank Munsey, the husband of OFHA vice president Jessi Munsey. “My concern’s there, but it’s not something I get too fired up about, because it’s been, what, six years that we haven’t done this? “What I am positive about is we have an organization that’s righting the ship and actually heading us in the right direction. That’s what important to me is we’re recognizing this and we’re doing the right thing for our community.” Mears and Villarreal said they are anxious to put the issue behind them and the HOA as a whole. Villarreal said it’s been the board’s top priority since February. She also said she and her fellow OFHA leaders are looking forward to leaving the next group of board members with a clean slate and protocols that will ensure they’ll be fiscally responsible and compliant with the IRS. “It’s something we’ve been working on for so long,” Mears said. “I would love to go to a board meeting and not have to discuss it any longer and make sure we dotted all our ‘Is’ and crossed our ‘Ts’ and can move on.”

IRS and an operating budget that ballooned from less than $50,000 early in 2013 to about $300,000 later that year, when the OFHA enlisted SEAL Security Services to patrol the neighborhood. The greater the budget for a nonprofit, the more extensive its 990 forms must be. Holmes, who said he resigned as OFHA treasurer in May in part because of the tax issue and how it was being handled by the other board members, is not convinced the IRS will reinstate the HOA’s tax-exempt status. He said its tax exemption was previously revoked for the same reason within the last 10 years, so he suspects the IRS will demand a greater level of assurance before reinstating the OFHA again. If the OFHA’s tax-exempt

status is not restored, it will have to pay federal income taxes for 2017 and 2018 and operate as a for-profit corporation moving forward. Holmes said that could have a domino effect detrimental to the HOA, which could be forced to raise its voluntary $40 membership dues or reduce its services to the neighborhood. Holmes said it could cause the OFHA to eventually go bankrupt. “Obviously the worst that could happen is that there’s not an organization to enforce deed restrictions,” Holmes said. “Then (that authority) falls back to the city.” Mears, Villarreal and Eric Fontenot, the OFHA’s sergeant at arms who said he spoke to the IRS on Monday, said the board members are confident the tax-exempt status will be reinstated. And if that hap-

pens, the only consequences of having it revoked will have been HOA money spent on the attorney and bookkeeper as well as the time and energy spent by the board members who have worked to rectify the situation. Holmes, Mears and Villarreal said all the organization’s money is accounted for dating back to 2014, meaning they have not discovered any malfeasance on the part of previous board members. And since the OFHA is a 501(c)4 and not a charitable 501(c)3, donations made to the HOA have never been tax deductible, meaning the lack of a tax exemption has no impact on the personal taxes of people who contribute to the organization. None of the 20 or so people who attended Monday’s

of tailoring its project to those specifications and hopes to have a Final Environment Impact Statement from the FRA during the first half of next year as well. If and when both federal hurdles are cleared, she said construction of the railway and its three stations – one of which is slated for the former Northwest Mall site at the intersection of U.S. 290 and Loop 610 – would begin. “With the movement of both federal actions underway, if those come out early to mid-next year, we’ll start constructing next year, which means you would be riding the train in 2026,” Reed said. There are other potential hurdles to what Reed called a “mega-project” that is being privately funded and is expected to cost in excess of $15 billion. She said Texas Central has secured about 30 percent of

the land it would need to build an elevated railway between Houston and Dallas, with one stop in the Brazos Valley between College Station and Huntsville. There have been legal questions about Texas Central’s authority to use eminent domain, an option afforded to private entities such as railroads as well as telecommunications and utility companies, in the event landowners along the proposed route are unwilling to sell. A state district court judge in rural Leon County ruled in February that Texas Central is not a railroad because it has yet to lay any track or run any trains. A Harris County judge previously ruled that Texas Central is a railroad and could utilize eminent domain. Reed said the company hopes to reach agreements with every landowner along its

proposed route and sidestep the issue of eminent domain. “But ultimately, if that is necessary and we’re forced to do that, will have to go down that path,” Reed said. Texas Central’s ultimate objective is to revolutionize intrastate travel with a mode of transportation it claims is safe, economical and friendly to the environment. Reed said the company is purchasing high-speed technology from Central Japan Railway, which Texas Central said has transported more than 10 billion passengers since 1964 without an accident or an operational passenger fatality. Reed said Texas’ bullet train, which aims to compete with automobile and air travel, would be powered solely by electricity, carry about 400 passengers, top 200 mph in speed and cost less than $100 to ride during non-peak times.

Contributed photo Pictured is the N700S, a high-speed train that Texas Central plans to use for a railway that would take passengers from Houston to Dallas in a span of about 90 minutes.

She also said it would create jobs for Texans and boost commerce in both of the state’s largest cities. The FRA’s action regarding the Rule of Particular Applicability took that plan a little closer to its final destination, which drew praise from Dallas-area congresswoman Kay Granger as well as Drayton McLane, Jr., the former

Houston Astros owner who is Texas Central’s chairman of the board. “It marks a major achievement to make this project a reality for all Texans,” McLane said in a statement posted on Granger’s website. “This is a bold move … to ensure we implement the safest passenger rail system in the world.”

to lay out their plans for addressing public safety, fiscal responsibility and infrastructure and mobility challenges. Attendee Leann Mueller, a 12-year Heights resident, said personal interactions and opportunities such as Tuesday’s provide a sense of candidness unique to the campaign trail. “You can really get a sense of where their focus is and what they’ve done,” she said. “It’s one thing to look at a pamphlet. It’s another to see them in person, shake their hand and

meet them face-to-face.” Several of the candidates grew up in neighborhoods throughout District C, including the Heights, Garden Oaks and Oak Forest, which is key for those such as Adler. One of the most important things he’s looking for is a leader invested more in the community than personal agendas. “I think there are a lot of good people who run for office, but there are also those who are more interested in their careers than their own communities,” he said. “I look for a candidate

that’s truly interested in public service.” Among the resident concerns expressed Tuesday included the ability to deal with growth when it comes to improving some of the city’s aging or out-of-date infrastructure as well as the mobility challenges that accompany growth. “I think Houston seems to have exploded in population growth in the last five years more than I’ve ever seen before,” Adler said. “Roads seem to be much more crowded than they’ve been in the past, so

those are a huge concern.” Mueller, on the other hand, came to the fire station with a laser-focused interest – keeping pedestrians in the Heights and throughout Houston safe from incidents such as the one earlier this year, when pedestrians Lesha Adams and Jesse Perez were struck and killed by a car while trying to cross North Shepherd Drive. The neighborhood is already making efforts right with the “Keep Kids Alive, Drive 25” campaign, but Mueller said they need city

help, too. “We have a very high pedestrian death rate in Houston. The city has got to start paying more attention to that. I’d like to see green paint on our bike trails and easily seeable crosswalks that are viewable when you’re in a car,” Mueller said. “We’re a neighborhood with a lot of families. If the Heights is truly going to be a walkable neighborhood, we need help from the city to achieve that, and we’ll do our part, too.”

Train from P. 1A the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) had granted its petition to have a custom set of rules created for the railway that would be used to ensure its safety and govern its system and operations. Texas Central filed the petition for the Rule of Particular Applicability in April 2016. “This is a huge milestone in the history of the high-speed train,” said Holly Reed, Texas Central’s managing director of external affairs. “There’s still a lot of work to do.” Reed said the company hopes the federal rules are in place during the first half of next year. The FRA, which is an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation, released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement in December 2017 that outlined environment concerns and a preferred route for Texas Central’s 240-mile track. Reed said Texas Central is in the process

Council, from P. 1A “It’s a lot of candidates and a lot of material to wade through and information to digest,” he said. “It would be difficult to really spend enough time with all these candidates to really get to know them, so events like this give me the chance to maybe cross a few off my list and focus more time on those who align with what I’m looking for.” Amidst a din of noise echoing throughout the fire station, the eight candidates in attendance took the about five minutes each

Saturday, September 14, 2018 • Page 9A

Seniors learn, socialize at community centers By Zarah Parker

Georgia Swayzer recently started going to the jewelry making activity for seniors at Milroy Community Center in the Heights and already loves it because of the time she gets to spend with others. Swayzer, who lives alone, said she also uses the time during the activity, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. every Tuesday, to get out of the house. “I come over here and we fellowship and I really enjoy it,” Swayzer said. Milroy Community Center, located at 1205 Yale St., is one of a few community centers in the area that other free activities to people age 55 and older as part of a citywide program within Houston’s Parks and Recreation Department. The other local gathering places are Candlelight Community Center at 1520 Candlelight Ln. and Highland Community Center at 3316 De Soto St. After making jewelry at Milroy, some seniors stay to play table games. Milroy also offers quilt making from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Wednesdays, and a few of the seniors who enjoy jewelry making go to quilting as well. Jean Gilbreath has been coming to Milroy’s senior activities since 2016 and loves that she gets to be a part of something creative. “I learned to sew and made a quilt, and I really enjoyed that,” Gilbreath said. The jewelry making usually includes about 14 seniors, while quilting has about seven. The time during the activities aren’t restricted to jewelry and quilts. Participants also do different kinds of crafts, such as recycled and seasonal-themed ones. Earlier in the summer, the seniors that go to Milroy created recycled bags. One was a purse made of common grocery store bags crocheted together. Another was a tote bag made of an old animal feed bag. While they enjoy the crafts, the seniors love the socializing aspect the time at the community center gives them. “They celebrate holidays,

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birthdays and special occasions. It’s a group-led effort,” said Roslyn Boyce, a recreational facility manager for the Parks and Recreation Department. “Everybody contributes their ideas as well as their talents. It’s a social group as well.” For more information about the senior activities at Milroy, call 713-867-0397. Highland Community Center offers a senior fitness program from 10-11 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. For more information, call 713-9569137. Candlelight Community Center hasn’t yet fully implemented its senior activities but is expected to have them soon. For more information, call 713-682-3587.

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Why children should spend more time with grandparents StatePoint Media Play is important for everyone, no matter their age --- and when grandparents, parents and children play together, that’s where the real benefits of unstructured fun are discovered. “Play time with adults of different ages is not just a chance for families to bond, these interactions with positive role models can help children develop a range of important social, language and problem-solving skills,” says Dr. Amanda Gummer, child psychologist and an expert contributor to Adults benefit from play time too. As one grows older, the free unstructured fun enjoyed in childhood is often replaced with structured activities like sports, card games and solving crosswords. Time spent with youngsters can keep adults young and give them a chance to relive more carefree days. According to The Genius of Play, a national initiative whose mission is to raise awareness about the importance of play and help parents make play a critical part of raising their kids, here are three reasons why intergenerational play is good for young children: • Unstructured play tends to be collaborative, encouraging cooperation and honesty.

Spending time together is beneficial for children and their grandparents. Photo from StatePoint Media.

• Spending time with older adults helps children understand how aging works, and later accept their own aging. • Grandparents are storytellers and their wisdom and experience can open children’s horizons further, as well as ignite imagination and creativity. When it comes to adults, intergenerational play is beneficial in the following ways: • Children bring innocence, joy and laughter to any situation, helping adults reduce stress. • Active, busy play time can keep an older adult vital and healthy. Indeed, those that play with children burn more calories, experience fewer falls and become less reliant on walking aids, according to studies. • Play time is good for an aging adult’s mental and emotional health. Games can help

seniors maintain cognitive skills and retain memory, and the quality time with children can prevent feelings of loneliness and boost positivity. Whether you’re young, old or somewhere in between, these three tips from The Genius of Play can help you make the most of the time together: • Share your favorite games with your grandchildren. From hide-and-seek to hula-hoops, introducing them to the games you played years ago is a great way to connect and make new memories. • Give children an opportunity to express themselves by letting them share their ideas for what they want to play with you. They’ll be more enthusiastic about participating if they get to call the shots sometimes. In today’s techsavvy world, grandchildren might want to play with a toy

that uses augmented reality or teaches coding skills. This can be a great way to engage with them on their level and learn more about their favorite activities. Plus, you’ll be learning something new! • Let your grandchildren win and lose the game sometimes. This is a great chance to boost self-esteem while learning about good sportsmanship. For more play ideas, expert advice and resources for families, visit TheGeniusOfPlay. org. There’s no doubt about it, intergenerational play is beneficial to everyone along for the fun. Be sure to carve out play time for your family, particularly when visiting with older relatives.

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Page 10A • Saturday, September 14, 2019 • The Leader

How close is too close when it comes to living near family? StatePoint Media While you can’t choose your family, you can choose how close you live to them. A new survey suggests some healthy boundaries between parents and in-laws make for a happier family relationship. Fifty-seven percent of respondents in the survey from Ally Home, the direct-to-consumer mortgage arm of Ally Bank, say there should be at least some driving distance between where their parents and/or in-laws live and where they live. An even greater percentage of gen Z respondents (63 percent) -- and millennials (62 percent) -- felt some distance was important. “We’re deep into the home buying season, and we’re seeing first-hand how excited consumers are to find and then be able to afford the home of their dreams,” says Glenn Brunker, mortgage executive with Ally Home. “But as Ally Home goes through that home-buying journey with them, it’s clear that there’s more than just the house and yard that go into making a home the right fit. Buyers are thinking through things like the neighborhood, school system, access to good hospitals, and yes, just how near or far they prefer to be to family.” Other survey findings included: • Call First Before Popping In: Thirty-seven percent of respondents agree family should not live close enough to just pop in and say hi. An even greater percentage of millennials -- 42 percent don’t like

the idea of the unannounced pop-in. • Adults Need Their Own Space: Almost two-thirds of Americans say that while they love their adult children, they don’t want them living with them. Millennials don’t like how things are trending, either. They worry more than any other age group that at some point they will have their adult children, their parents or in-laws living with them. • Proximity is a Top Stressor: The survey also presented respondents with a number of stress points and asked which ones ranked top when dealing with family. Thirty-eight percent of respondents named “living within five minutes of parents or in-laws” as their top stressor, out-ranking “cooking a complicated meal for a mother or mother-in-law” and “hosting family for the holidays.” “Much of a person’s preference regarding location has to do with cultural norms, since extended families living together or nearby one another is common in certain cultures. But more often, having some physical distance between family can help create a healthy boundary. Ultimately, it’s up to family members to be open and honest about their own boundaries and what makes them most comfortable,” says William X. Kelly, a marriage and family therapist. A good choice for a home is one that makes you happy. When shopping for a home, don’t forget to take the family factor into consideration.

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