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Power returning, water pressure improving By Adam Zuvanich firstname.lastname@example.org
The City of Houston has begun emerging from the grips of an unprecedented winter storm. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Thursday that electricity had been restored to many residents who had gone without it, in some cases for a day or more, with the city having endured rolling outages since early Monday. He also said the pressure in the city’s main water system had improved since Wednesday, al-
though Houston residents remain under a boil water notice. “Things are improving, but we still have a ways to go,” Turner said. Turner said the boil water notice, under which residents are advised to boil tap water for at least two minutes before using it for consumption or cooking, could remain in effect through the weekend. In addition to coping with power outages, low water pressure and in some cases a lack of running water, residents of
the Heights, Garden Oaks and Oak Forest areas - along with the rest of the region - also are dealing with burst water pipes as temperatures rise above freezing during the daytime and then dip back below freezing at night. Turner, who lives in Acres Homes, said Wednesday he is among the Houstonians who have had pipes burst at their homes. He said the city is in the process of setting up a fund See Power P. 5A
Photo from Twitter Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, at podium, speaks about the winter storm that devastated the city.
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Frozen solid. Whose home got the coldest this week? Residents share their experiences.
Contributed photo From left to right, Tegan Hughes, Mia Strom and Reese Hughes enjoy the snow near St. Rose of Lima Catholic Community.
Neighbors warm hearts, hands during storm In a day’s work. New Day Church sheltered community members while it could.
Mighty effort. MytiBurger was among the restaurants to serve customers during the storm.
By Betsy Denson firstname.lastname@example.org When Mia Heil saw a homeless man underneath the bridge at Loop 610 and Ella Boulevard on her way home from work last weekend, she knew it was unsafe for him to be there with freezing temperatures coming. So the owner of Oak Forest Academy made a reservation for the man at an area hotel and then inquired on local social media pages if anyone could connect her with police or firefighters who might help her make contact with the man and ask him if he would like a place to stay. Two Houston Police Department officers answered the call, and they all met the man Heil now knows as Mr. Miller. “The minute we asked him, he said he would go (to the hotel),” Heil said. Heil had booked him a room from last Saturday through Friday thinking the weather would get better. However, when she wanted to extend Mr. Miller’s stay through Monday and couldn’t get in touch with the hotel, she reached out online again. “I’m too far away to drive down there to check,” Heil wrote. “Is there anyone that’s close that may be able to go for me? I need to get in touch with the front desk and See Neighbors P. 5A
Strong swimmer. Justice Wenz recently capped a stellar career at Lutheran High North.
All Kim Ludlow wanted was an answer to a question about the new water line in her remodeled Timbergrove home. Andrew Adams, the owner of Covington Signature Homes, ended up giving Ludlow and her family four hours of his time during a crippling winter storm. He helped them heat their home and their water pipes, and then he saved the pet fishes owned by Ludlow’s 6-year-old son, Link. Ludlow said she called Adams at about 10 a.m. Tuesday, at which point she had been without power for the better part of 24 hours as the Houston region coped with an arctic blast that brought snow, ice and sustained freezing temperatures. Within about an hour he had driven from his home in Sugar Land and brought a generator, which he hooked up to the Ludlows’ furnace and later to Link’s fish tank – so Darwin, Fin and Nemo could warm up as well. “You hear all these horror stories about contractors. You don’t expect them to be really nice people,” Ludlow said. “He’s just a really nice person. It was just really thoughtful what he did.” Adams, who had completed work on the Ludlows’ home during the summer, said he already was planning to drive to the Greater Heights to check on some ongoing projects he has in the area. He also stopped by the homes of two other clients, in the Memorial and West Houston areas, to help heat their houses before making his way back to Fort Bend County. See Fish P. 5A
Contributed photo Garden Oaks resident Leyton Croker holds frozen water with green food coloring that was formed inside a balloon.
Contributed photo Two pet fishes, Nemo (orange) and Darwin (yellow and black), swim near the heater in the fish tank of 6-year-old Timbergrove resident Link Ludlow.
YMCA provides respite for community members By Adam Zuvanich email@example.com
THE INDEX. Church....................................................... 4A Classifieds.............................................. 5A Coupons. ................................................. 3B Food/Drink/Art................................... 1B Opinion. ................................................... 3A Public Information......................... 2A Puzzles...................................................... 3A Sports. ....................................................... 2B
Local homebuilder saves family’s fishes
Contributed photo Oak Forest resident Stephanie Medlyn warms up Wednesday while charging her phone and computer at the Harriet and Joe Foster Family YMCA, which opened as a community warming center earlier this week.
Stephanie Medlyn woke up Wednesday morning with no power and no running water. A few hours later, the Oak Forest resident heard from a former neighbor that the local YMCA had opened as a community warming center. So Medlyn made the short drive to the Harriet and Joe Foster Family YMCA at 1234 W. 34th St., where she was able to warm up, recharge her batteries and enjoy some refreshments – all for free. “I’m very grateful,” she said.
“I needed to warm up and needed a place to charge my phone and Kindle. I didn’t necessarily need the sandwich, but I’m thankful for it.” Marie Arcos, the executive vice president for government and community affairs for the YMCA of Greater Houston, said the Garden Oaks location was one of three YMCAs the organization planned to open on Tuesday as the region coped with sustained freezing weather and the problems it caused – such as widespread power outages and water shortages. But only the Houston Texas YMCA
in the Third Ward was open on Tuesday, because the Foster Family YMCA as well as the M.D. Anderson Family YMCA in the Northside neighborhood both were without power. On Wednesday, only the Garden Oaks location had power, so it served as a warming center from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. It opened again for that purpose on Thursday and Friday. “It’s a scramble every day,” Arcos said. Arcos said about 50 community members took advantage of the local warming center See YMCA P. 5A
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THE PUBLIC. The Leader • Saturday, February 20, 2021 • Page 2A
County attorney on lookout for price gouging By Adam Zuvanich firstname.lastname@example.org
New Harris County Attorney Christian D. Menefee is asking Houston residents to report incidents of price gouging as the region copes with a winter storm that has left residents without power and running water while in many cases causing damage to homes.
Menefee said in a news release that during a declared state of emergency, the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act makes it illegal for businesses or individuals to sell fuel, food, medicine, construction tools, building materials, lodging or other necessities at an “exorbitant or excessive” price. The entire state is in a state of emergency, and the county attorney’s
office said it is using complaints submitted online to pursue legal actions against those who are trying to take advantage of Houston-area residents in need. Menefee said residents who suspect they have been victims of price gouging or other unfair business practices should keep receipts and take photos of products and their prices that can be sub-
Police Reports • Feb. 5 - Feb. 15 FEB. 5
Robbery 1 AM 1600 BLOCK STUDEMONT Theft 5 PM 500 BLOCK YALE Theft 1 PM 3000 BLOCK YALE Theft 2 PM 1200 BLOCK W 20TH
Other 9 AM 1000 BLOCK WALTON Theft 12 PM 1900 BLOCK TABOR Assault 10 PM 1600 BLOCK W 25TH Burglary 6 PM 6400 BLOCK N SHEPHERD Arrest 11 PM 1200 BLOCK CROSSTIMBERS
Theft 4 PM 3100 BLOCK AIRLINE Theft 10 PM 900 BLOCK HARVARD
Theft 12 AM 1900 BLOCK HEIGHTS BLVD Other 10 AM 800 BLOCK HERKIMER Assault 3 PM 500 BLOCK E 42ND Assault 7 PM 1200 BLOCK W 30TH Arrest 5 PM 5100 BLOCK N SHEPHERD
Theft 8 AM 1700 BLOCK NICHOLSON Theft 9 PM 600 BLOCK W 24TH Theft 10 PM 600 BLOCK E 18TH Theft 9 PM 4000 BLOCK KOEHLER Robbery 12 AM 100 BLOCK W 20TH Arrest 10 AM 2800 BLOCK AIRLINE Other 7 AM 2900 BLOCK
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BLACK GOLD GUNS & AMMO Licensed FFL/Class III Dealer AIRLINE Theft 1 PM 400 BLOCK S HEIGHTS Burglary 6 PM 3200 BLOCK WATSON Assault 4 PM 4500 BLOCK OLD YALE Robbery 10 PM 1800 BLOCK SHEPHERD Theft 6 AM 5100 BLOCK N SHEPHERD Theft 1 AM 1200 BLOCK CROSSTIMBERS
Theft 6 PM 500 BLOCK W 20TH Theft 11 PM 700 BLOCK ALLSTON Assault 4 PM 1300 BLOCK E 31ST Theft 5 PM 2700 BLOCK WHITE OAK Theft 7 AM 500 BLOCK W 19TH Assault 3 PM 300 BLOCK N LOOP Assault 11 PM 1800 BLOCK AIRLINE Robbery 1 PM 3400 BLOCK HINTON BLVD Theft 8 PM 2300 BLOCK ELLA BLVD
Assault 5 PM 2000 BLOCK DURHAM Theft 6 PM 2200 BLOCK BEVIS Theft 10 PM 1400 BLOCK W 23RD Theft 10 AM 8200 BLOCK N BAYOU Theft 9 PM 800 BLOCK EUCLID Assault 9 PM 5300 BLOCK KIAM Theft 11 AM 100 BLOCK W 20TH Robbery 4 PM 200 BLOCK W 20TH Theft 12 PM 1400 BLOCK NORTHWOOD Theft 4 PM 2800 BLOCK WHITE OAK Robbery 10 AM 00 BLOCK E CROSSTIMBERS Theft 2 AM 900 BLOCK W 25TH Robbery 1 AM 1300 BLOCK CROSSTIMBERS
Theft 4 AM 1000 BLOCK ADELE Theft 12 AM 200 BLOCK S HEIGHTS BLVD Other 2 AM 200 BLOCK PATTON Assault 2 PM 200 BLOCK E 27TH Burglary 10 PM 600 BLOCK E 25TH Assault 10 PM 900 BLOCK W 34TH Other 11 AM 1500 BLOCK BEVIS Arrest 3 PM 300 BLOCK W CROSSTIMBERS Theft 2 PM 500 BLOCK CROSSTIMBERS Burglary 9 PM 1700 BLOCK E CROSSTIMBERS Arrest 2 AM 700 BLOCK N LOOP
MICHAUX Arrest 4 AM 100 BLOCK W CAVALCADE Arrest 8 PM 4300 BLOCK AIRLINE Arrest 11 PM 1300 BLOCK CROSSTIMBERS Theft 8 AM 3100 BLOCK ELLA
Burglary 3 PM 1100 BLOCK WAVERLY Theft 6 PM 4300 BLOCK FULTON Robbery 2 AM 1000 BLOCK MOY Theft 12 PM 100 BLOCK W 20TH Theft 9 PM 1200 BLOCK CORTLANDT Assault 11 AM 2300 BLOCK N SHEPHERD Theft 3 PM 1400 BLOCK SHEPHERD Assault 1 AM 200 BLOCK AMUNDSEN
Vandalism 11 AM 600 BLOCK YALE Burglary 11 AM 600 BLOCK OF YALE Burglary 6 AM 1500 BLOCK N LOOP Vandalism 7 PM 3000 BLOCK SUMMER Assault 6 PM 5000 BLOCK YALE Reports are provided by SpotCrime.com based on data from the Houston Police Department.
Theft 8 PM 2500 BLOCK BRINKMAN Theft 9 PM 200 BLOCK T C JESTER BLVD Theft 8 AM 200 BLOCK W 20TH Vandalism 7 PM 3600 BLOCK
mitted along with a report. Reports can be filed by text message to 346-354-7459, online at harriscountycao. org/report-price-gouging or by email to consumerhelp@ cao.hctx.net. Instructions for filing reports are available at harriscountycao.org/pricegouging. “This historic weather event is incredibly challenging for Harris County resi-
dents who are already under strain because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Menefee said in a news release. “Overpaying for necessities to survive freezing temperatures is the last thing folks need to worry about. I urge you to report price gouging on our website. We will hold businesses and individuals accountable for unfair practices.”
Father, son shot on 610 feeder By Landan Kuhlmann landan@theleadernews. com Houston police are investigating a shooting on the Loop 610 access road that put a man and his son in the hospital on the afternoon of Feb. 10. The victims, 40-year-old Emiliano Garcia and his 10-year-old son, were at an area hospital in stable condition, according to a Feb. 11 news release from the Houston Police Department. HPD said Garcia was driving near the 300 block of North Loop West, between North Shepherd Drive and Yale Street, just before 3:30 p.m. Feb. 10 when he attempted to pass another driver but was cut off. According to police, the other driver pulled in front of Garcia’s car and suddenly braked before pulling out a
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gun and firing toward Garcia and his son, who was a passenger. Both were shot. The two vehicles then collided, police said, but Garcia managed to keep driving to a hospital. HPD said the shooting suspect, described as a Black male between 20 and 25 years old, continued driving on the service road for several blocks before ditching his car and fleeing the scene on foot, heading north on Main Street. Anyone with information in this case is urged to contact HPD’s Major Assaults & Family Violence division at 713-308-8800 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-8477.
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THE TOPICS. The Leader • Saturday, February 20, 2021 • Page 3A
Why the prolonged power outages? COT initiated outages early Monday morning around 1:30 a.m. On Monday, 34,000 megawatts were offline. As of Tuesday, 45,000 megawatts of power were offline. Of that, 15,000 of downed power production was from wind and 30,000 was from gas and coal-fired plants. During normal operating conditions, the grid has 82,000 megawatts of generation capacity.
By Rebecca Bridges For The Leader
What’s going on with Texas (ERCOT) electricity? And more importantly, why didn’t I have lights for so long? Below we walk through what went on with Texas electricity during this brutal cold snap. We also have some ideas on why rolling blackouts turned to 36-plus hours without power in some areas. Why is it cold right now? The Polar Vortex, last seen in the U.S. in January 2019, is making a visit to Texas. The Polar Vortex is a mass of cold air that spins above the Arctic. If that air is disturbed by warming or cooling spurts, some of the air can move down into North America. The central U.S. experienced record low temperatures this week. Everything from Chicago to South Texas was impacted. Temperatures in Texas were 30-40 degrees lower than normal for this time of year. And that’s important because it’s impacted the price and availability of fuel across the country, including oil and natural gas. Natural gas is being consumed at record levels, for heating. And that’s impacting natural gas power plants in Texas. Why is the cold causing power outages? Many have blamed the current lack of electricity on renewables. After all, Texas is one of the leaders in renewable energy. In 2021, ERCOT expects 29 percent of power to come from wind and 6 percent to come from solar. And yes, when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, these power sources don’t operate. There are also issues with turbines in West Texas freezing up and becoming inoperable. But renewable energy issues account for around 25-30 percent of the lack of power supply. The current issue lies more with traditional energy resources. Texas power plants do not have advanced winterization. That means mechanical failures occur during freezing temperatures. Mechanical failures also impact oil production. Almost half of U.S. natural gas is a byproduct of oil production. So that has also impacted natural gas availability … just as gas demand has surged for heating. As temperatures dropped, natural gas pipelines started to freeze and gas moved slower than normal. The level of gas being consumed to heat homes means lower pressure in the pipes. That also makes it more diffi-
cult to bring natural gas power plants back online. Natural gas supplies are constrained across the country due to the cold. So much so that on Feb. 12, Texas regulators at the Railroad Commission of Texas met to prioritize natural gas resources for Texas. The No. 1 priority? Delivery of gas to residences, hospitals, churches and other human needs customers, along with delivery to local natural gas distribution companies like CenterPoint and Atmos Energy. In second place? Delivery of gas to electric generation facilities. But that’s only part of the problem. Why were the lights off ? ERCOT is the traffic cop that manages power for 90 percent of the state. It works on the supply and demand of power, balancing load (demand) with generation (supply). If demand outstrips the supply, there can be catastrophic failure of the power grid. You can see an example of that in the northeast blackout in 2003. Last Sunday night, ERCOT watched tremendous demand growth due to the cold. At the same time, “multiple generating units began tripping off-line in rapid progression due to the severe cold weather,” according to Dan Woodfin, senior director of system operations at ERCOT, the organization that manages the state’s electric grid. As ERCOT representatives stated on a Tuesday media call, “If we’d let that stay imbalanced it would have been catastrophic for the entire grid.” Picture 29 million people in Texas without power, instead of 4.2 million Texans. That night, ERCOT made the decision to immediately call for a 10,000 megawatt reduction in power usage. Each transmission and distribution provider in Texas received a request for immediate power reduction. ER-
Why were rolling blackouts not rolling? So all of that tells you a little bit about power, and the issues of supply and demand. The bigger question for most people is, why were the rolling blackouts not rolling? Transmission and distribution companies (CenterPoint, Oncor, TNMP, AEP-Central, AEP-North) are the companies that must decide where to turn the power off and where to leave it on. They focus on keeping power on for critical resources. That includes things like hospitals, government buildings and registered critical care customers who have a medical necessity for power. Normally rolling blackouts means rotating power resources among different areas of the grid. But instead, if your lights went out, they stayed out. We were unable to reach anyone at the transmission and distribution companies to get an answer on why the blackouts were not rolling. Instead, we’re told that if your lights were out, they would remain out. Based on a review of major media outlets across the U.S., the delivery companies hadn’t given a clear answer to anyone. One industry expert we talked to gave the analogy of power transmission being similar to water rolling down a mountain. Like water, power will take the path of least resistance. Transmission and Distribution Utility (TDU) companies control that flow of power with a series of breakers and switches. TDUs may be concerned that rotating the outages — tripping a breaker here and a switch there — could cause an even bigger failure. That could cause them to lose control of the transmission and distribution lines, causing outages across the state and a full-on blackout. Here’s what Bill Magness, CEO of ERCOT, told the NBC affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth: “A blackout is (when it’s) not under control. A blackout means rebuilding large parts of an electric system. A blackout means your power is out for an indefinite, undetermined period of time.
“As catastrophic as this feels, these are controlled outages and we can turn things back on. What we’ve done by implementing these outages is to avoid that catastrophic risk. “If we bring people on too fast and there’s not enough generation to support them, we put ourselves right back in that risky situation that we were in Sunday night as the storm blew in. “Unfortunately, the way we’ve had to manage that, given the conditions on the electric system right now, is to continue to have a lot of customers without power. “As soon as we can do that without that risk of catastrophe, without the risk of a blackout, that’s exactly what we’re going to be doing as fast as we can.” Will my electricity company go out of business? Retail Electric Providers (REPs) need to pay their bills just like anyone. ERCOT acts as a clearing house for energy scheduling, as a conduit for balancing supply and demand and as a banker that makes sure the books are balancing, too. And when the day-ahead power markets cleared at $7,500 MWh for Monday ($7.50 per kWh), ERCOT came knocking. They wanted retailers to post collateral. For NRG (parent company of Reliant, Cirro, Direct Energy, Discount Power and Green Mountain, among others), that meant depositing $2 billion with ERCOT. For Luminant (parent company of TXU Energy, 4Change and TriEagle), that meant begging for cash from creditors who previously bailed them out of bankruptcy. As of Monday, rumors were that there were 12 REPs in default with ERCOT, but we have not been able to substantiate that. Those REPs will be working frantically to get credit from their suppliers. So yes, it’s likely that some retail electricity companies will go out of business because they can’t afford to buy power. If your power company goes out of business, they will either (1) sell your power contract to another retail electricity company or (2) drop your power contract to the Provider of Last Resort. If you are dropped to the Provider of Last Resort, you will have 60 days to find a new electricity provider. Your lights will stay on. But you will pay a very high price for electricity. If your contract with your REP expired and you are on a month-tomonth rate, find out if you are being billed on a “market index rate” or on a variable rate.
If you are on a variable rate, your electricity price for February was already set at the end of January. However, your price for March may be significantly higher. Most REPs are not currently accepting new customers due to the energy market conditions. But, that will change starting the week of Feb. 22, once temperatures return to normal. You should compare electricity rates from multiple companies to get the best deal. If you are on a market index rate and your electricity price is tied to natural gas or the real price of energy, call your REP and ask to be switched to a fixed rate plan immediately. You may be able to negotiate a discount on your bill if you agree to a new contract. Your options to shop are limited because, again, REPs are not currently accepting new customers due to market conditions. We expect some REPs to reopen enrollment for switches and moveins on Feb. 20. The rest will be accepting enrollments starting Feb. 22. How do we fix Texas’ grid? People are angry and rightfully so. There’s nothing fun about having your electricity out when it’s 6 degrees. Whose fault is it? ERCOT? The generators? The delivery companies? There will be plenty of time for blame. For now, the focus is on getting the power back on. The House State Affairs Committee and Energy Resources Committee will hold a joint hearing on Feb. 25 about the factors that led to sustained power outages across the state. This happened in 1989. It happened again in 2011. In both cases, the issue was lack of winterization of power plants. And here it is again. Some fixes that have been floated include: - Interconnecting Texas to other electrical grids for emergency power - Requiring more winterization investment in power plants - Establishing a capacity market for power in Texas as exists in other areas of the country. A capacity market pays power plants just for existing, even if they aren’t needed. The bottom line? Texans want answers. But unless Texans are willing to pay higher electricity prices, we will continue to have winter incidents like this into the future. Rebecca Bridges is an Oak Forest resident and Chief Marketing Officer for ElectricityPlans.com, an online electricity shopping platform that lets residential and commercial customers compare electricity rates to find the best electricity price.
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Seems like we are paying for power generators, distributors, grid management mistakes
Dear Editor: I really hope that you will take some time to investigate exactly why this power disaster happened this week. I had no power at all from yesterday morning at 2 a.m. until this morning at 3:06 a.m. I know that Centerpoint was the entity who decided who would and would not have power, although they keep trying to hide behind the grid management. I also know that the problems with the grid were known before all of this happened, but nothing was done to improve generation facilities. The fact that our power entities are non-regulated by the government in any way could not have helped. Was it going to cost too much money to fix things? My neighborhood (Forest Pines) is largely seniors and the cold was particularly intolerable for us. I was finally able to sleep this morning after the power and heat came back on. It is unacceptable for the power companies to allow this to happen. Ellen Watkins
Dear Editor: Up late working on paperwork and took a break to go through some of the newspapers that I had not read recently. I went into the kitchen to grab a beer and noticed that despite all the cleaning up over the last few weeks one front page Newspaper remained in the kitchen. It was your paper. The story about the fire where the guy had canceled his insurance to pay his employees. And the long time restaurant that was closing after decades of serving the community. That front page. It was moving and relevant in exactly the way that your paper is relevant. Hope the new year is going well just wanted to drop you a note. Jonathan Day
Heights residents escalate opposition to storage facility
Dear Editor: There is a two block gap between the historically protected Woodland Heights and the Historic Heights. This building is going in that gap. If you’ve ever wondered what the protected sections would look like without the protections - THIS IS IT. HeightsRez
Homeowners in Heights worried about incoming gas station
Dear Editor: Sure, we are all such “curmudgeons” not wanting our kids to be exposed to carcinogens or 24/7 noise and light out their bedrooms or the crazy traffic coming in and out to increase the accidents already occurring. The story is talking about the city not evaluating health, safety, or environmental impacts. No, an owner cannot do “whatever they want” on their property. I can’t do something that hurts my neighbors; there are ordinances and rules that exist - just in this case they specifically exclude gas stations. And as to buying near Yale or Shepherd, our families in this neighborhood were here first - we have lived nice, quiet lives on this street until the influx of newcomers repealed the dry law which allowed gas stations and development to occur that wasn’t possible before. Those of us who actually live in The Heights love it for what it has been and yes, it’s very sad to lose your neighborhood to gas stations and big developments. Jl123
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21. A baglike structure in a plant or animal 27. Date 29. I, Portuguese 30. Design on the skin 31. Time before 32. Free from gloss 34. V.P. Quayle 35. Supplement with difficulty 36. Tell on 40. Landed properties 41. Metric ton 42. One thousandth of an ampere 43. Former __ Hess, oil company 45. Siemans conductance unit 46. Woman (French) 47. More (Spanish) 48. Request 49. Group jargon 51. Stakes 52. In advance 54. Yiddish meat pie 55. Equal, prefix 56. Box (abbr.) 58. Having nine hinged bands of bony plates 59. Scarlett’s home 60. S. branch of the Lower Rhine
Page 4A • Saturday, February 20, 2021 • The Leader
Residents experience fear, frustration during outages By Betsy Denson firstname.lastname@example.org
The first social media posts about the loss of power in the area came out early Monday morning. Homes in Candlelight Place, Shady Acres and Forest Pines reported losing power in the middle of the night, with residents in the Heights, Garden Oaks, Oak Forest and other neighborhoods reporting losing electricity in the morning. At the time, they had no idea they would be without lights for so long. In a contest that no one wanted to win, it seems those in Shady Acres went without power the longest. “(It) went out at 1:30 a.m. Monday and came on just now at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday,” Stephanie Parker said. “Not sure how long it’ll last.” The arctic blast that descended on the Houston area Sunday night - bringing sustained freezing temperatures, snow and ice - led to widespread power outages through
Wednesday as the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages energy flow for much of the state, directed local electricity providers to implement rotating outages because of a lack of supply on the grid and mechanical failures caused by the extreme weather. It made for a harrowing experience for area residents, who scrambled to stay warm in their homes while also coping with watersupply issues and burst pipes that had frozen. Allison Newport, who lives in a 1940 bungalow in Shady Acres “with a bit of insulation in the attic but none underneath,” evacuated since she said it was not safe to stay. “The lowest temp I measured inside my house was 25.5 degrees and I had an icy indoor faucet and frozen solid dog bowl,” she said. “I believe ours was the bottom threshold of indoor temps in our neighborhood.” Laura Sartwelle, who lives on West 24th Street between Beall Street and Durham
Drive, said the power first went out at 8 a.m. Monday. She did not get it back until 2:15 p.m. Wednesday. What was frustrating for her was the apparent randomness of who had power and who did not. “Neighbors three houses down closer to Durham have never lost power this entire time and all of the businesses that are closed between Durham and Shepherd on 24th Street have all of their lights on and signs lighted up with no one there,” Sartwelle said. “We have a neighbor who uses a breathing machine at night, and he has gotten very sick due to no electricity. Our house got down to 45 degrees. What can we as citizens do to prevent this in the future?” Vanessa Smith in Section 2 of Garden Oaks had a similar experience of near neighbors with full power. At her home, the power flickered at 1 a.m. Monday and completely went out at 5:30 a.m. It was restored briefly the next day at 10:30 p.m. and had gone on and off since then.
“It was 48 at its coldest, although the thermostat said 55 when the power came back on,” Smith said. “We never evacuated, convinced that the power was coming back on any minute. That was not the case for 40 hours.” Among the many lessons Smith said she and her family learned for the future? Don’t forget to fill the bathtubs with water. Kimberly Spaeth in Forest Pines first lost power around 2 a.m. Monday and got it back on for initial service after 25 hours, with sporadic power over Tuesday and Wednesday. “The house got to 43 degrees,” Spaeth said. “We stayed home since hotels lost their power, too.” Megan Taverna, who lives in Woodland Heights, said their home got down to 39 degrees. “We didn’t evacuate, we don’t have family in town and everyone else we knew also didn’t have power,” Taverna said. “We felt someone needed to be here to stay with our dog
Contributed photo Frozen water hangs from a sink faucet in the Shady Acres home of Allison Newport, which got as cold as 25.5 degrees this week.
and keep an eye on the pipes.” The power came back at their house at 10:15 p.m. Wednesday. “It has been on ever since, fingers crossed,” Taverna said. “We also had low water pressure but a gas stove to boil water.” Having little or no water
pressure has area residents keeping an eye on their pipes and testing their faucets. Many are posting online about hopes to wash clothes or dishes or to take a shower. “I’ll never take hot showers for granted again,” Sierra Gray of Garden Oaks said. “Dreaming of running water.”
New Day Church comforts residents during storm By Zarah Parker email@example.com
As Houstonians woke up Monday morning to a layer of snow on the ground, many also woke up with their electricity out and a lowering temperature inside their homes. The leaders at New Day Church, 3615 Mangum Rd., jumped at the chance to help members of Oak Forest and surrounding neighborhoods by offering their meeting place as a warming center. “We are always looking for ways to practically show the love of Jesus, and so when we saw countless people posting online that they had no heat in this historic winter storm, it was an obvious way to help
out people who desperately needed it,” said John Wethington, a pastor at New Day Church. The idea to use the building as a warming center came because the executive pastor James Yandell and his family were sheltering there while their home was without power. Yandell and Wethington realized that if New Day could be a blessing to them, then it could be a blessing to a lot of other people in the community. The church opened to the community on Monday and became a full-service shelter with rooms available, bathrooms, water and food. Wethington said more than 30 people between the ages of
Contributed photo John Wethington, right, a pastor at New Day Church, embraces community member Michelle Diaz, who took advantage when the church operated as a warming center on Monday and Tuesday.
1-70 took advantage, including a family of four that was passing through Houston on the way to Austin and needed a place to stay because all the nearby hotels were booked. But the church lost power Tuesday night and water Wednesday morning, causing New Day to have to close as a warming center. While it served as a warming center, though, the church hosted people during the day and overnight. It supplied sleeping materials and meals thanks to donations made to the church. “When people were interested in coming they started by asking a million questions and we just told them to come and we’ll figure it out and get
them whatever they need,” Wethington said. “It’s too cold to stay home for any reason.” Families with children were welcome as well as pets as long as they were kenneled. “It’s been really special to see so many people helped,” Wethington said. “When people showed up and walked in the heated building, you can tell they gained some hope that this, too, shall pass. We’ve seen kids become friends while staying at our warming center. It’s like the city is falling apart, but they are just enjoying playing Candyland and tag. I’m glad we’ve been able to minimize the chaos for some fellow Houstonians.” Follow us on social media @ FromTheLeader
Too many Texas voters have been missing in action Did you vote in the 2020 elections? Good, because a lot of Texans couldn’t. We have all sorts of barriers to keep certain people from voting – laws, land mines, barbed wire and snide comments from voting precinct workers. How tough is it to cast a ballot in the Lone Star State? A new study from Northern Illinois University finds Texas has the most restrictive voting laws in the country. We’re Number One! The transparent reason is that the Republicans, who control our state, think a low voter turnout helps them win. That is not necessarily true, but our GOP brethren (and sistern) believe that, along with Big Foot, leprechauns and Fox News. They are also afraid of voter fraud, which, as Gov. Greg Abbott has charged, is “rampant” in Texas. This groundless scare has led to all sorts of schemes. In 2019, David Whitley, nominated to be Texas Secretary of State,
same-day voter registration in Texas. To vote in the last elections, Texans had to register roughly a month in advance. In Harris County -- which has the most COVID-19 cases and fatalities in the state – the county clerk tried to send mail-in ballot applications to all voters. Our ace state attorney general, Ken (still under indictment) Paxton, said that was illegal, and his opinion was upheld by the State Supreme Court. Texas also doesn’t provide online voter registration, unlike a vast majority of states. Only Texans who are U.S. citizens and undergo training can be appointed as volunteer deputy registrars and register others to vote. Texas is also the only state that requires people to be deputized to conduct a voter drive. There is no statewide certification, so volunteers cannot sign up voters from counties where they are not already sanctioned, out of 254 counties across the state.
Lynn Ashby Columnist
discovered that approximately “95,000 individuals identified” as non-citizens were registered to vote, “58,000 of whom have voted.” Alas, many if not most of those 95,000 had become citizens who could legally vote. Whitley didn’t get the job. During the midterm election in 2018, according to the Texas Civil Rights Project, long lines, voter intimidation, voting machine malfunctions and other issues afflicted almost 278,000 Texans. By “afflicted,” I think that means hurdles, in some cases, unable to vote. Unlike in 21 states and Washington D.C., there is no
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But Abbott’s most transparent blow to voting early was his one-box-fits-all decree: “To protect voter integrity,” Abbott ruled that only a single location in each county could be designated where absentee ballots could be dropped off. Although Abbott issued a state-wide mask mandate, his order specifically exempted polling places. During the primary, some poll workers left their polling site in Collin County after Republican workers refused to wear masks. Because we have counties that measure more than 6,000 square miles, a single delivery location would leave some voters having to drive well more than an hour to deliver their vote. Harris County has 4.7 million people spread out across 1,729 square miles with 2.4 million registered voters. The county had to reduce its 11 drop-off locations down to one. Travis County cut its four drop-off locations to one. It may get
In light of theSunday COVID-19 outbreak, please check with church below for updated St.each James Lutheran Church, ELCA Bible Studies For All Ages ... 9:30am Morning Worship ............... 10:45am • Worship (English) ..... 10:00 am - 11:00am information Wednesday about services and events. In-person services are temporarily restricted. Bible Studies For Youth, Children • Learning Hour........... 11:00am - 12:00pm MANNA
worse. For the current session of the Texas Legislature, Gov. Abbott has declared “election security” an emergency item. Yet another ploy is redistricting legislative and Congressional districts, which the Texas Legislature will also be considering, maybe in a special session this summer because the U.S. Census is running behind schedule due to the virus. Texas will probably get three new U.S. representatives. Allen West, chairman of the Texas GOP, advised Republican legislators: “They must realize this strategic opportunity and not concern themselves with ‘fairness’ to the progressive socialist left.” After the districts are redrawn, what you bet which party gets them? Texas’ Congressional districts already look like a Rorschach test. For example, Travis County is divided into five Congressional districts. One runs from Austin to Houston, another runs to Mexico.
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t goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: “we have all made mistakes.” As Alexander Pope so aptly put it: “To err is human, to forgive, divine.” We should remember this the next time we make a mistake. Most certainly, we must learn from our mistakes, and hopefully not continue to repeat them, but we should also forgive ourselves. While it can be hard enough to forgive others for their mistakes, it can sometimes feel almost impossible to forgive ourselves. We sometimes cannot bring ourselves to forgive something we’ve done, and we may punish and harangue ourselves for years, or even decades, over youthful indiscretions. In addition, some of us may not be able to forget the sins of our past. And although that may prevent us from repeating them, we must be charitable and forgive ourselves, just as we should forgive others. So, we should make a real effort in the coming days and weeks to forgive the offenses of others as well as our own. Sometimes, it helps to just forget about them; that is, to try to put them out of our mind and stop repeatedly mulling over them. One of the reasons we use the phrase “forgive and forget” is because sometimes that is the only way to forgive, i.e., by forgetting. But far better, and more divine, is to be able to forgive even while remembering the offense. So, we should let go of those unforgiving, vindictive, shameful feelings about the past, and get over it! Corrie ten Boom, who survived incarceration in a Nazi prison camp said, “Forgiveness is to set a prisoner free, and to realize that the prisoner was you.”
By Pastor Will Cover
Arise Baptist Church 803 Curtin St. Houston TX 77018 713-659-9697 • www.arisebaptistchurch.org
ave you ever seen something so amazing that you just had First Church St. James Lutheran Church, ELCA Weekly to share it with someone? Sunday Services Gethsemane Lutheran Church • Bible Study: 9:15 a.m. 4040 Watonga • 713-688-5227 People who follow me on Facebook t8PSTIJQ &OHMJTI BNBN • Morning:10:30 a.m. We invite you to worship withus! • Evening: 4:15 p.m. Weekly Worship Services 9:00 a.m. see my posts often as I share the t-FBSOJOH)PVS 1700 Sunday West 43 at Rosslyn School & Bible Classes 10:30 am BNQN School ........9:15 am MANNA Sunday 713-682-4942 progress on our church building or t8PSTIJQ 4QBOJTI QNQN Pastor – Dr. Richard Walters Sunday Worship......10:30am 4QPOTPS Ad # 32285 the home that we are rebuilding for Wednesday Bible Study 8FTUSE4Ut)PVTUPO 5Yt a family that lost everything during & Prayer 6:00pm Candlelight Church ofService Christ Join us for Services FC Heights Family and Staff Hurricane Harvey. As I see things in English or Spanish Sunday Morning Worship 8:30 and 11:00 201 E. 9th St. • 713-861-3102 happening that I think will inspire Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn Sunday Worship 10am & 5pm Sunday School for Children, Youth and Adults 9:40 not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, Please website at: Sund visitforour Sunday Bible Classes 9am www.fbcheights.org Ministries All Ages or encourage other people I like to and you will be forgiven... Wednesday Bible Study 7pm Home of Johnson Memorial School for Little Children www.lazybrookbaptistchurch.org for the following: shareR.S.V. those things with them. I am Rev. Nathan Lonsdale Bledsoe, Pastor 4215 Watonga Blvd. • 713-681-9365 Luke 6:37 ◆ 713-686-8241 ◆ stsumc Sunday Services: In-person @ 9 AM and 2003 W. 43rd St.Wed .org Houston, TX 77092 thankful for the opportunities I have 11 AM (Live stream during 11 AM service) to witness amazing things happen. Bible Studies: From Homepage, click on In John 1:6-8, the author of 1822 W. 18th • 713-864-1470 Connect/Small Groups the book introduces us to John the Baptist. Many people are familiar with the work of John the Baptist, Gethsemane Lutheran Church especially the fact that he baptized Pastor Jerry McNamara Jesus. However, the author of the 4040 Watonga • 713-688-5227 book of John, John the disciple of Jesus, doesn’t speak primarily We invite you to worship with us! of John’s role as a baptizer, even Weekly Worship Services 9:00a.m. though that is something he did, Online services can be reached but rather he focuses on his role as a and Adults............................ 6:15pm
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Finally, in the 2016 presidential elections, 3,877,868 (43 percent) Texans voted for Hillary Clinton, but because of Texas’ winner-take-all in the Electoral College, all 38 of our votes went to Donald Trump. In our last presidential election, those 5,259,126 (47 percent) votes for Joe Biden were ignored. Considering all the barriers Texas places between registered voters and those who actually get to vote, no wonder Texas ranks 43rd among the states in voter turnout. Santa Anna was right – Texas isn’t ready for self-government. Ashby still votes at email@example.com
witness. John was sent from God to be a witness of the Light. This Light is Jesus Christ. John came to be a witness of the Light so that all men might believe. If someone is lost in the dark woods, they need light. If someone was in a cave and lost their way and their flashlight ran out of batteries, they would need light. The Bible tells us that we live in a world that is dark because of sin. People make the wrong choices. Each and every one of us have chosen to go our own way apart from God. Jesus is the Light of the world. He came to bring light to those in darkness. He sent John and has now sent us to be the witness to the Light of Jesus Christ. If you have seen this Light then you know what I am talking about. Any person lost who has found light will want everyone else to know about it. If you feel lost in your life and you don’t have answers to your problems, let me show you the Light that is Jesus Christ. Let me show you the answers to your questions as found in the Word of God. There is hope for each and every person if they will look to the Light of Christ.
Th rewr acro
The Leader • Saturday, February 20, 2021 • Page 5A
Power, from P. 1A
Neighbors, from P. 1A
to assist homeowners, particularly those who are elderly or in low-income neighborhoods, with repairing damage caused by the prolonged winter storm. Carol Haddock, the director of Houston Public Works, asked residents who have not had their pipes freeze to shut off their water and drain their pipes before going to bed Thursday night. She said doing so would help prevent pipes from bursting and allow the city to continue building pressure in its water system. “We’re going to rely on every one of you Houstonians to make this happen,” Haddock said of restoring water pressure. “Make sure you minimize your water use. Use water only for truly critical functions.” Those without power, or running water, have been advised to use bottled water for consumption, but increasing demand for it has put a strain on supply and local grocery stores also have coped with power outages and are operating under limited hours. The city said in a Thursday night news release that nearly 109,000 bottles of water were distributed earlier in the day through coordinated efforts by the 11 Houston City Council members who represent districts. District C council member Abbie Kamin held four distribution events, including at the Heights Fire Station at 107 W. 12th St. and the Harriet and Joe Foster Family YMCA at 1234 W. 34th St., while District A council member Amy Peck held an area distribution event at the White Oak Conference Center at 7603 Antoine Dr. The city scheduled a mass water distribution for 10:30 a.m. Friday at Houston ISD’s Delmar Stadium at 2020 Mangum Rd. “We want to establish sites throughout the city that will
be accessible to a lot of individuals,” Turner said. Turner said Houstonians with disabilities who need bottled water but are unable to travel to a distribution site can request to have it delivered to them at crowdsourcerescue. org/freeze. The Foster Family YMCA in Garden Oaks also served as a community warming center on Wednesday and Thursday. The city and Harris County’s COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites, including the city’s mass vaccination site at Delmar Stadium, were closed through Thursday. The Houston Health Department said it planned to resume vaccinations Saturday, while Harris County Public Health was set to resume testing and vaccinations on Friday. All HISD campuses and offices are closed through Friday. Turner said he spoke Thursday morning with an executive for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and was told the agency had given the “green light” to local energy providers to restore power to all customers who had lost it, with some exceptions because of damages to infrastructure. But Turner said there could still be some outages related to a surge of power generation coming onto the electricity grid. Kenny Mercado, a senior vice president for CenterPoint Energy, said there were about 40,000 Houston-area customers without power as of late Thursday morning. A day earlier, he said there were 1.37 million residents of the region who were without electricity. “We’re not done yet, but we’ve come a long ways in the last 24 hours,” Mercado said. “We won’t stop until we get every single customer back on.”
check to see if he still has money for food. If I can get in touch with the hotel, they can charge my card and give him cash.” Again, one of the original officers who helped went back to the hotel and connected Heil and Mr. Miller by phone. Heil said he is grateful. “He’s a very nice guy,” Heil said. “He has been homeless since his father died. He knows someone in Lubbock and we’re trying to get him there.” Heil’s kindness is one of many examples of local residents helping fellow community members during a week of freezing temperatures, power outages, water shortages and mounting anxiety. Whether it was neighbor helping neighbor or neighbor helping stranger, the help provided warmed hearts as well as hands. Timbergrove Manor’s Julia Carmack started a charging station at her home because as she said, “It was the right thing to do.” After Hurricane Harvey when her family lost power for a few hours but was basically trapped by floodwaters – and hearing Tropical Storm Alison horror stories – they decided to install a whole-house generator. “It’s the best home purchase we’ve ever made because we have peace of mind,” she said. “We have friends from down the street staying with us and an extension cord running over the fence to another neighbor’s furnace controls, but we have extra capacity, so starting the charging station was the least we could do to help the neighborhood.” The Carmacks also filled their bathtub using a WaterBob bag for potable water and offered neighbors hot and cold water, too, as well as hand warmers. “Probably a dozen people have dropped off power bricks to charge, or stood in the driveway charging phones, and one lady sat in front of our house charging a bunch of devices late last night,” she said. “Nobody has taken us up on the water. We’ve also helped a number of neighbors turn off water service at the street — at least three within a few hundred yards have had burst pipes. We feel privileged to have had the resources to be prepared and (feel) distressed that there is so little we can do to help.”
Fish, from P. 1A
Contributed photo The Carmack family in Timbergrove Manor used a generator to set up a charging station in their driveway that neighbors could use to power their electronic devices.
Those with generators helped neighbors with warmth – or with cooling in the case of goods that needed to stay frozen – and kept needed medical devices working. Sarah-Ann Keyes was looking for someone in the neighborhood with a generator to take a breastmilk stash so it would not spoil. She posted on the Oak Forest Parents Resource page and in short order had a place to bring it. “A very kind neighbor took it for me,” Keyes said. “All other items are replaceable.” Jeremy Joseph in Oak Forest said his neighbor hooked up them and their other adjacent neighbor to his generator. “We could have heat and keep our toddler warm and (our other neighbor kept) their infant warm,” Joseph said. “(He) came and just did it while it was raining.” During the two-day period when many were without power for hours, neighbors opened their homes. Amanda Cruser said her “very kind neighbor” was out of town when her mother had been without power for about 15 hours. “He offered his home next door to ours for my mom and her dog (who doesn’t get along with our dogs) to stay warm,” she said. “We are so thankful.” Heights resident Alison Schmieder
said what they did was not extraordinary, just neighborly. “Check-ins with everyone. We housed Woodland Heights friends plus kids overnight who were without power for 30 hours, (and) shared a meal made from what we could rescue from their freezer,” she said. Tatum Kelley in Candlelight Oaks used a neighbor’s oven to make a lasagna and pool water from another neighbor to flush toilets. Those with pools found their help in great demand by Tuesday afternoon, when there was no water pressure in most of area. Candlelight Place’s Shaun Benesch filled up buckets from his pool and even did door-to-door service on Wednesday. He took about 50 buckets to four different places, including an apartment complex. All these acts, and more, have been a boost during a dark time, both literally and figuratively. “It’s been amazing to see the outpouring of care, love, support, offers of help with basic needs and creature comforts and beyond,” Nicole Fowler said. “I am proud of our neighborhood and the people in it. When it gets down to it, we are human, and we help each other when our lives depend on it. Thank you to everyone for making sure everyone is OK.”
YMCA, from P. 1A
The former Oak Forest resident said he and his company, which builds and remodels homes in the Heights area as well as Garden Oaks and Oak Forest, pride themselves on building relationships with clients and maintaining contact with them after their work is complete. Covington Signature Homes is a multiple-year winner of The Leader’s annual Readers’ Choice Awards for Best Developer and Best Custom Home Builder. “We’re a 100 percent referral business,” Adams said. “We have no business without clients referring us to their friends and family. By the time we’re through building a house for a client, they’re more family than they are clients. We’re close to our clients.” Adams said helping fellow Houstonians in
need also is “just the right thing to do,” especially in times of crisis. He said he would have volunteered to help the Ludlow family even if they hadn’t done business with them. “They’re nice people, nice young people with a young family,” Adams said. “I couldn’t see them freezing in their house when I had a way to help them.” Ludlow said Wednesday that Adams’ assistance one day earlier had helped keep their water pipes from freezing. The family’s water pressure was low, she said, but water was flowing. Their power also was restored Wednesday. “And the fish are still alive,” Ludlow said. “(Adams) saved my son’s fish, which was very sweet.”
on Wednesday, and she described them as a diverse mix. There were local residents such as Medlyn, families with young children, senior citizens, professionals who needed power to work and members of Houston’s homeless population, who were transported there by the City of Houston because its primary warming center at the George R. Brown Convention Center had reached capacity. The YMCA provided bottled water and military-style Meals Ready-to-Eat (MRE), Arcos said, along with lunch boxes that were donated by the Houston Texans. She said the lunches were picked up by law enforcement officers, firefighters and first responders and also served to members of the community,
who were required to wear masks and maintain social distance while inside. Arcos said the outreach effort was made possible in part by an $18 million gift the Houston YMCA received in December from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. “It’s a wide variety of people coming in and utilizing the resources we have and are making available to them,” Arcos said. Among those who took advantage was Medlyn, who said her car charger doesn’t work and she needed a way to supply power to her phone and tablet. Her local YMCA fulfilled that need and fed her as well. “It was very nice of them to do it,” she said.
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The Leader • Saturday, February 20, 2021 • Page 7A
The winter storm that descended upon the Houston area this week caused widespread power outages, water-supply issues and damage to homes in the form of frozen and busted water pipes. But it wasn’t all bad. Local residents took advantage of a rare opportunity to build snowmen, engage in snowball fights and make memories with family members and friends.
Contributed photo Local resident Robbie Gutierrez walks across a snow-covered Pinemont Drive earlier this week.
Contributed photo The Dwyer family made a snowman in their driveway during the winter storm that blanketed the Houston region this week in snow and ice.
Contributed photo A Northwest Houston family plays in snow that settled on a backyard trampoline earlier this week.
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Contributed photo With all the snow that fell in the area this week, some Ella Lee Forest residents were able to make a family of snowmen.
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Contributed photo Ella Lee Forest residents Nola and Edith Pursell pose for a picture while standing in the middle of a snow-covered street in their neighborhood earlier this week.
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Page 8A • Saturday, February 20, 2021 • The Leader
The Leader • Saturday, February 20, 2021 • Page 1B
MytiBurger proves heroic during storm By Adam Zuvanich firstname.lastname@example.org
Even when Houston shuts down during natural disasters, MytiBurger tends to stay open. The no-frills greasy spoon at 2211 W. 43rd St. has been an Oak Forestarea staple since 1967, and current owner Shawn Salyers said it has a history of serving customers no matter the conditions. MytiBurger has operated during cold snaps, heat waves, floods and hurricanes, with Salyers saying his restaurant even opened on the night Hurricane Harvey flooded much of the city in 2017. So while most of the surrounding community hunkered down earlier this week amidst freezing temperatures, power outages, a lack of running water and snowy, icy road conditions, MytiBurger kept its grills and fryers on and served hamburgers to drive-through customers on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday – until its power went out at about 5 p.m. Wednesday. The power was back on by Thursday morning, though, and Salyers said he would open again for lunch and dinner. “I’ve been able to do it every time so far,” said Salyers, who bought the business in 2012 and said it was last forced to close during Hurricane Ike in 2008. “I get a good response from the community. It’s a rush.” MytiBurger was among several local restaurants that continued to serve the community as it coped with a rare winter storm. Millie’s Kitchen & Cocktails also was open at 3542 Oak Forest Dr., as was Harold’s Restaurant, Bar and Rooftop Terrace at 350 W. 19 St. in the Heights. Walking Stick Brewing Company at 956 Judiway St. was open Thursday for to-go beer sales and also was donating filtered water, up to 10 gallons per family. According to CultureMap, Antone’s Famous Po’ Boys, BB’s Tex-Orleans’ Oak Forest location, Chick’nCone, Christian’s Tailgate, Coltivare, Fat Cat Creamery, Kin Dee Thai Cuisine, Onion Creek Coffee House, Bar & Lounge, Studewood Cantine, Valencia’s Tex-Mex Garage and Velvet Taco also opened and served cus-
Contributed photo Community members waited in long lines earlier this week to place orders at MytiBurger, which remained opened at 2211 W. 43rd St. despite the winter storm that froze the Houston region.
tomers during the storm. Naro Mak, the owner of Hartz Krispy Chicken on Pinemont, said he had planned to serve drive-through and takeout customers on Wednesday while opening up his dining room as a community warming center. But the plan was foiled before 10 a.m., when the restaurant at 1215 Pinemont Dr. lost power. But power was restored by Thursday, when Mak planned to be open from 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. “or until we run out.” “You win some, you lose some, I guess,” Mak said. “So far, it seems like everybody’s in good spirits. They’re frustrated and annoyed, but nobody’s worried about COVID right now.” Because of the ongoing pandemic, Salyers said he decided to keep his
small dining room closed to customers. MytiBurger still had lines of vehicles stretching around the property and even spilling onto 43rd Street and nearby T.C. Jester Boulevard on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Salyers said his business’ sales during that stretch were about five times higher than usual, which enabled him to provide extra compensation for his 10 employees who volunteered to come to work under less-than-ideal conditions. Among those employees was Linda Aguijo, who has been a longtime fixture at MytiBurger. “She’s been here over 20 years and she always comes through during these emergencies,” Salyers said. The MytiBurger owner also thanked his “lovely wife” for “holding down the fort” at their home in
Contributed photo The staff at MytiBurger overcame poor road conditions, frigid temperatures and a Wednesday evening power outage to serve customers in the Oak Forest area.
Candlelight Oaks, where the power had been going off and on and there was no water as of late Wednesday afternoon. He said he had to drive to Pasadena on Tuesday for hamburger meat, and he and his staff served customers until 7 p.m. on the first two days of the week. Salyers planned to continue serving customers later in the week – as long as his power remained on.
“I don’t like sitting at home spinning my wheels. I find a way to get open,” he said. “Now that I’ve done it a few times (during natural disasters), I enjoy it. My employees like it, because I get to compensate them for these days pretty well, and they know the community gives them pretty good tips. We figure out a way to get it done.”
Review: The Taco Stand serves up array of tacos Zarah Parker Managing Editor
If you throw a rock in Houston, you’ll probably hit a spot specializing in tacos. When a new place opens serving the hot commodity, it has to stand out. So when The Taco Stand opened up late last month next door to its sister concept The Burger Joint, I had high expectations. I ended up at the new restaurant’s opening day for lunch. The Taco Stand is mostly outdoor patio seating, with a few spots “inside,” meaning a part of the patio that’s completely covered and closed in, but still open air. To order, there is a walk-up window and when your order is ready, you pick it up at a different window.
My favorite part of this new space is that it has a drivethrough. I don’t think there’s many spots that have quality ingredients that have a drivethrough. And it’s what I’ve utilized after my first visit. During my first visit I grabbed two tacos with chicken in flour tortillas. They came with cilantro and onion, but you can choose to add additional toppings. I added slices of avocado. The chicken was well-seasoned and with the hefty helping of avocado, I didn’t feel like I needed anything else. The tortillas were soft and fresh. I also tried the chips and salsa, of which there are five. The chips are thicker than most and seemed a little overdone, but I liked that there was a variety of salsa, from spicy to sweet. The next time I dropped by The Taco Stand I drove through and picked up a burrito with carne asada. The bur-
rito was almost 1 foot long and thickly stuffed with beef, rice, beans, onions and cilantro. The beef wasn’t chewy, which is what I appreciated most about it. Most of the toppings were portioned just right, except I thought there needed to be more beef. I would have also liked the burrito to have been cut in half, which I think is done when its eaten at the restaurant. The breakfast tacos are my favorite. The chorizo and egg, with the addition of avocado slices, is great. The chorizo and egg are mixed well and the peppery and garlic flavors of the chorizo really came through. I also liked the bacon and egg as well as the chorizo and potato, with the addition of refried beans. The only downside to the breakfast tacos is they aren’t served after 11 a.m. The Taco Stand carries various meats for tacos, burritos and tacos bowls, includ-
ing pastor, carnitas, barbacoa, suadero, chicharron and pollo vegano. Quesadillas are also on the menu. The Taco Stand is a new stop on my breakfast and lunch rotation because it’s apparent that it uses good-quality meats. However, with those ingredients comes a higher price. For example, one taco with meat is $2.49, but it’s a $1 upcharge for a flour tortilla and an upcharge for any additional tacos. So my two tacos cost almost $10. The Taco Stand Address: 2018 N. Shepherd Dr. Hours: 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 6 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday Pricing: $2.49-$10.99 Kid-friendly: Yes Alcohol: Yes Healthy options: Vegetarian Star of the show: Chorizo and egg
The new mixed-use development in the Heights, M-KT, has a new tenant in Blue Sushi Sake Grill, an Omahabased restaurant. The grill will open this summer on the M-K-T property at 600 N. Shepherd Dr., according to CultureMap. The restaurant is also part of the Monterey Bay Aquarium: Seafood Watch program, which guarantees its fish was humanely caught and/or raised. The restaurant will serve a large selection of sushi and sashimi as well as a variety of grilled items. Patriot Burger campaign raises over $10,000 On Oct. 1 of last year, LAS-
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New sushi spot coming to Heights this summer CO Enterprises restaurants, including Max’s Wine Dive at 4720 Washington Ave., introduced the Patriot Burger to its menu. Each restaurant’s executive chef created a unique Patriot Burger for $15. It was available until Dec. 31. For each burger sold, $5 went directly to Combined Arms, a nonprofit that provides veterans access to valuable resources. From October to December the Patriot Burger initiative raised awareness and brought in $17,510 in funds for Combined Arms. On Dec. 15, as LASCO Enterprises was closing in on 1,800 Patriot Burgers with a goal of 2,000, owner Jerry Lasco upped the stakes and launched a two-week personal fundraiser, asking friends, family, colleagues and pa-
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FOOD BRIEFS: By Zarah Parker
Photo by Zarah Parker Pictured are chicken tacos topped with cilantro, onion and avocado from The Taco Stand at 2018 N. Shepherd Dr.
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Date - Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021 Time - 4:30 p.m. Can’t make it? - All registrants receive a replay To register - Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Page 2B • Saturday, February 20, 2021 • The Leader
Title-winning Wenz leaves mark on LHN swim team By Landan Kuhlmann email@example.com
When Justice Wenz and his younger brother, Caleb, came to Lutheran High North two years ago, the school’s swim program had been dormant for several years. Fast forward to 2021, and the program looks to be on its way up. And it will have gotten its restart with the help of one of TAPPS’ most distinguished swimmers over the last two seasons. During the TAPPS Division III state swim meet on Feb. 8, Justice Wenz capped off his LHN career with one of his best performances. The senior won his second consecutive state championship in the 100yard breaststroke with a personal-best time of 58.90 seconds and finished second in the 200 individual medley with another personal-best time of 2:03.17 – shaving about 5 seconds off his previous best in the latter event. “I actually almost got disqualified (after the 100 breaststroke),” he remembered with a laugh. “I tossed my goggles across the pool because I was just so pumped that I finally got this best time and I had just won state. Looking back, I can see how it could be perceived
as unsportsmanlike conduct, so I probably shouldn’t have thrown my goggles.” Some other local swimmers also fared well at the TAPPS state competitions. The St. Thomas boys placed second as a team in Division I, winning state in the 200 medley relay while placing third in both the 200 and 400 freestyle relays. The Eagles’ Dylan Michaels won an individual state title in the boys 500 freestyle and placed second in the 200 freestyle with a school-record time of 1:44.06. Teammate Josh McLean finished third in the 200 IM with a school-record time of 2:00.49. St. Pius X sophomore Stephanie Birkelbach was the state runner-up in the girls 500 freestyle and finished fourth in the 200 IM. Freshman Ava Ceraudo finished fourth in the girls 100 breaststroke and fifth in the 50 freestyle. Wenz’s medal-winning performances in Division III were a culmination of sorts. He said he and his brother began swimming at Dads Club in Houston in kindergarten. “At first it was just fun and something that we did – then as I got a little older people kept telling my mom how good I was at this swimming
Contributed photo Lutheran High North senior Justice Wenz swims during the TAPPS Division III state meet Feb. 8. He won the 100-yard breaststroke.
thing,” he said. “That’s where I got really competitive and started to love training. It was all the fun of summer league combined with harder work and faster swims – all the best things in swimming.” But amidst it all, he said he never lost his passion for doing things in the way he believes is best. “It’s an everyday thing, a daily mindset at every practice – have fun, lift others, and they eventually lift you,” he said. “It is hard, but make it fun.” Little did Wenz know, that mantra would be especially relevant during a turbulent final high school season. Diving into adversity
Like many others in the Houston region and the state, LHN and Wenz’s summer training was thrown into upheaval last March when the COVID-19 pandemic first reached the region. For starters, Wenz said he was unable to even climb into a pool for the first two months as the region figured out protocols for dealing with the coronavirus. That was quite the change for someone who previously had near-daily 5 a.m. wakeup calls for personal workouts. “My whole day starts with swimming, so I just felt weird the whole time. I had to run, and my knees were hurting all the time because I wasn’t used to that,” he said. “Just finding
Lady Bulldogs roll in playoff opener By Landan Kuhlmann firstname.lastname@example.org
Not many high school basketball teams have been able to keep pace with the Heights Lady Bulldogs this season, with many of their 23 victories coming by double digits. It was more of the same last week as Heights continued its dominant run with an 80-45 win over Cypress Ridge in a Class 6A bi-district playoff game Feb. 12 at Delmar Fieldhouse. Tierra Simon was the anchor in the middle for Heights, posting her 12th double-double of the season with 24 points and 13 rebounds. She also had three steals and four blocked shots. Gracelynn Alvarez had one of her most prolific nights of the year, scoring 23 points to go
along with four assists and steals, while Tatianna Brown had eight points and nine rebounds. The Lady Bulldogs (23-4) will next face Fort Bend Ridge Point at 1 p.m. Saturday at Houston ISD’s Delmar Fieldhouse. Booker T. Washington’s Lady Eagles dropped their playoff game against Jones by a score of 55-37 on Feb. 11, ending their season with a record of 10-10. Boys For Booker T. Washington, Kenneth Lewis capped off a strong regular season with a pair of standout performances last week. Lewis had 31 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks in a Feb. 10 loss against North Forest, then followed it up with 32 points in a win
over Wheatley on Feb. 12. Jaylan Elliot added 21 points for the Eagles (15-10, 12-2 District 24-5A), who finished the regular season in second place in their district. Sir Roberts paced the Heights Bulldogs with 21 points in a win over Westbury on Feb. 10, while Chris Smith tallied 13 points and eight rebounds. Kendric Rhymes led all scorers with 10 points in a Feb. 12 loss to Bellaire. The Bulldogs (14-4, 10-2 District 18-6A) will enter the postseason as their district’s second seed. Andreas Missick led the Scarborough Spartans with 19 points in a Feb. 9 loss against Kashmere, while Jose Cardenas had a doubledouble with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
different outlets to get that workout in was tough – whether it was pushups at home or trying to find little ways to keep up my training.” But through all those home – and eventually socially-distanced – workouts, he knew what he had to do to keep spirits up and make a run at defending his state title. “Make up jokes, sing a song, whatever you have to do to enjoy the daily hard work in the pool,” Wenz said. It appears that the spirit was not lost on Wenz or his teammates, spurring them to a solid finish at the state meet. Younger brother Caleb Wenz, a junior, finished second in the 100 butterfly and sixth in the 50 freestyle, while LHN finished 13th among 28 participating teams in the meet despite sending just six total swimmers. It was the culmination of a whirlwind season for many around the state, especially as Lions first-year head coach Brian Chambers got his feet wet at the school. “Justice is a champion in and out of the pool,” Chambers said in the swim team’s newsletter following the meet. Leaving his mark It’s no secret that Wenz
LAST WEEK’S SCORES Boys Feb. 9 Waltrip 82, Wisdom 30 Kashmere 83, Scarborough 49 Feb. 10 Heights 51, Westbury 44 North Forest 81, Booker T. Washington 79 Feb. 12 Booker T. Washington 92, Wheatley 48 Bellaire 62, Heights 53 Feb. 13 Waltrip 80, Austin 58 Waltrip 64, Milby 57 Girls Feb. 11 Lutheran High North 52, Covenant Christian 42 Feb. 13 St. Pius X 43, Concordia Lutheran 33
was a force to be reckoned with in the pool, given his recent dominance. He said he has had conversations with multiple Division III colleges about swimming for them, and one day hopes to represent the United States in the Olympic Games. “(The other swimmers) figured out that I was the top guy (with a 59-second seeding time), and all asked if I was the ‘59 guy,’ ” he said with a laugh. “After we finished, they were all so excited for me, saying, ‘Now you’re the 58 guy.’ ” But his favorite memory at LHN, Wenz said, has been the journey and those he crossed paths with to help him grow beyond swimming. He is hoping to get a Texas real estate license in the coming years as he tries to make an impact no matter where he is, the way he feels he’s been able to do at LHN. “The best part has been being able to go to a school where I can have such a loud voice. I got to restart the swim team and put LHN on the map,” he said. “I love the size of our school, and being the varsity swim captain has helped me sort of be a leader. I would love to see LHN swim grow and be a highlight for the school.”
THIS WEEK’S GAMES Boys Playoff Schedule Saturday Class 5A Bi-District Waltrip vs. Fort Bend Hightower, 11:30 a.m., Hopson Field House, Missouri City Class 4A Bi-District Booker T. Washington vs. Navasota, 3:30 p.m., Waller High School Class 6A Bi-District Heights vs. Cy-Fair, 7 p.m., Delmar Fieldhouse
Girls Playoff Schedule Saturday Class 6A Area Playoff Heights vs. Fort Bend Ridge Point, 1 p.m., Delmar Fieldhouse
The Leader • Saturday, February 20, 2021 • Page 3B
Inclement weather got you down? Indoor activities for your dog! (treats work well for encouragement). Bonus points if you can convince your kids to do the course as well! Dear Tabby, With the bad weather that we’ve been having this winter, I was hoping for some tips for helping to keep my dog from getting bored while stuck inside. Any ideas? Cabin Fever in Cottage Grove Dear Cabin Fever, We have had some pretty wild weather this year so far. The weather, coupled with the pandemic, has left many pets and their owners feeling rather stir crazy. While a nice outdoor walk is always a great way to burn off some steam and entertain your pooch, sometimes that’s just not an option. Here are a few indoor activities that will keep Rover entertained during all of our inclement weather and/or global pandemics.
Tug-O-War A game as old as time, tugo-war is easy, doesn’t usually require the purchase of anything special, and engages your dog’s brain as well as his brawn. If you have a rope toy, these work best for tug-o-war, but an old towel can also work in a pinch (just make sure not to let your dog chew on the towel and ingest any of the material as that can cause a dangerous blockage). Training Now is a great opportunity to teach your old dog some new tricks. Check out YouTube for tutorials on how to teach your dog a trick in just a few minutes. Simple tricks
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are usually easy to teach in as little as 10-15 minutes and help keep your doggo’s brain engaged during a serious bout of cabin fever. Hide and Go Seek Yep, that beloved childhood game of Hide and Go Seek can be played with your dog. You can either play the traditional way, or you can hide treats around the house for him to find. Living in Texas, while we have lots of beautiful weather days, we often have inclement weather during each of the four seasons. So, it’s a good idea to have some fun indoor activities in your back pocket for keeping your pets entertained when outdoor time just isn’t possible. Do you have a question for Tabby? Email her at email@example.com.
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Page 4B • Saturday, February 20, 2021 • The Leader
Memorial Hermann updates policy to allow more visitors By Adam Zuvanich firstname.lastname@example.org
Patients at Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital, 1635 N. Loop W., are allowed one adult visitor per day effective Feb. 11, the health system announced last week. Two adult visitors (age 18 and older) per patient per day are permitted for pediatrics patients, while one adult visitor is to stay overnight for pediatrics patients as well as those in the Labor & Delivery unit. Memorial Hermann, which had been restricting visitors since early December in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, said the updated visitor policy applies to all its hospitals as well as its inpatient rehabilitation facilities. The hospital system’s outpatient facilities continue to enforce a no-visitor policy with limited exceptions to ensure social distancing in waiting areas. Those facilities include Memorial Hermann Medical Group Greater
Heights at 30 N. Loop W. #30, Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation-Greater Heights at 300 N. Loop W. #300, Memorial Hermann Convenient Care Center in Greater Heights at 1431 Studemont St. and Memorial Hermann Urgent Care Washington Avenue at 4500 Washington Ave. #300. Daily visiting hours for all Memorial Hermann hospitals are from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. All visitors are required to clear a health screening upon entry and will be provided a mask to wear throughout their visit. They are allowed to use hospital cafeterias. Additionally, the hospital said one adult visitor per day is permitted for patients in contact isolation, although no visitors are allowed for patients in “droplet, airborne or a combination of isolation precautions.” Family members may visit patients in hospice or supportive medicine care. Memorial Hermann said age restrictions to not apply to visitors younger than 18
but not limited to the NICU, Pediatrics and Labor & Delivery, and will be managed by each facility,” Memorial Hermann said in a news release. “Memorial Hermann continues to encourage the use of video chat programs on your
personal device to visit with loved ones who cannot visit in person.” For more information, visit https://memorialhermann. org/ser vices/conditions/ c o r o n av i r u s / i m p o r t a n t announcements#visitorpolicy.
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281-886-7888 File photo Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital, 1635 N. Loop W., began allowing one adult visitor per patient per day on Feb. 11.
who arrive in the emergency room with a patient. Such minors are allowed to remain with the emergency room patient. Also, visitors of day surgery patients are allowed to remain on site until the pa-
tient is discharged as long as social distancing can be maintained in the waiting area. “Very limited compassionate exceptions to the modified visitor policy will be made for areas including
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Leader February 20