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Inside Today: Explore the area’s growing sushi trends • Page 1B

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Employment shortage hitting neighborhood businesses By Landan Kuhlmann landan@theleadernews.com

John White’s “Help Wanted” sign outside Miller’s Café in the Garden Oaks shopping center at 3830 N. Shepherd Dr. has been up for nearly a month – but the phone isn’t ringing. “Typically, I have people coming in here asking me for jobs all the time – at least weekly,” said White, who co-owns Miller’s Gar-

den Oaks location. “I was going to let that sign ride for a month, then go on Indeed to find people.” White’s story is not an unfamiliar one. Contrary to what consistently seeing “Help Wanted” or “Now Hiring” signs might imply, many businesses around the country and the local area are struggling to find the necessary workers who help their operation run smoothly.

“I’m not even getting many resumes,” White said. “I’ve had just two people call me in the last few weeks.” Brad Pruitt, who helped open the first Ike’s Love and Sandwiches location in Houston at 1051 Heights Blvd. in August 2019, said he’s never seen a job market like this one in his six years hiring workers. “For the most part right See Shortage P. 5A

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Photo by Landan Kuhlmann “Now Hiring” signs are popping up all around the area as local businesses struggle to find employees to fill open positions.

Catalytic converter thefts jarring local residents

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INSIDE.

High marks. Local teachers such Sinclair Elementary’s Barbara Smith are being recognized by HISD.

Page 4A

Laura and Adrian Tracy are combining their interests and skills for their new business, Modern Vintage.

Shop til you drop. More options than ever exist for community members at one of the area’s many outdoor markets.

Page 7A

Safe House. Heights artist John Carroll Runnels has a new project for the community.

Page 8A

On a roll. Handies Douzo’s hand rolls quickly became a favorite during a recent visit.

Pandemic pivot leads to new business By Betsy Denson betsy@theleadernews.com Candlelight Plaza area residents Laura and Adrian Tracy could teach a class on pivoting during the pandemic. When husband Adrian lost a 10year gig at catering company, A Fare Extraordinaire, due to a loss of revenue during COVID-19, the couple turned his cocktail mixing skills and Laura’s retail, design and marketing savvy into a burgeoning business. Modern Vintage hand produces and bottles cocktail mixers. “At his job, Adrian managed the beverage program and had to deliver top-shelf craft cocktails at high-end events servicing up to 1,000,” Laura said. “His solution was to develop prebatched cocktails that didn’t diminish the cocktail experience itself.” When Durham Elementary, where their children attend, asked the couple to supply the cocktail mixers for their annual gala, they complied. And due to the positive feedback they received,

Contributed photo Grapefruit Lemon Basil is one of four year-round options from Modern Vintage.

Laura and Adrian decided to try a small batch of Spiced Old Fashioned mixers to make a little extra money for the holidays. “We started out with 100 bottles and worried that would be too much,”

Laura said. “We sold out in a week.” The next batch of 200 also sold out with publicity on their neighborhood social media channels. Erin Simpson, the owner of Third Born Ginger Beer and fellow parent at Durham Elementary, helped the couple get a head start too. When they found that porch deliveries were no longer feasible because of the number of deliveries they had to make, the Tracys approached Village Liquor on North Shepherd, which started carrying the line. Levi Rollins and Eric Munoz who own Urban Eats also started selling Modern Vintage and allowed the couple to use their kitchen on Sundays to make the mixes. Then Relic General Store and Manready Mercantile in the Heights picked up the brand as well. By January, their growth necessitated further expansion. The Tracys signed on with Favorite Brands, a statewide wine, liquor, and See Pivot P. 5A

See Converters P. 5A

Contributee photo Catalytic converter thefts have been on the rise nationwide, and the local community has not been immune from the trend.

West 18th Street improvement project set for June completion By Betsy Denson Betsy@theleadernews.com

Page 2B

THE INDEX. Church....................................................... 4A Classifieds.............................................. 5A Coupons................................................... 3B Food/Drink............................................. 1B Opinion..................................................... 3A Public Information......................... 2A Puzzles...................................................... 3A Sports......................................................... 4A

Contributed photo

Shepherd Park Plaza residents Kathleen Ponter and Rachelle Vento both traveled to Timbergrove’s Brookhollow Marketplace on unrelated trips about two months apart earlier this year. However, the two are now connected through a string of thefts that is sweeping through the Houston region. Vento and Ponter both had their catalytic converters stolen while inside various stores at the new shopping center near Dacoma Street and Highway 290 during those aforementioned trips. “It sounded like a rocket taking off (when I turned my car on), and then I see my check engine light come on,” said Vento, who had the catalytic converter stolen off her Honda Element near the end of March. “I had no idea what was going on.” Ponter had a similar experience about two months earlier in January at the same shopping center. “When I first started the car after finishing with the shopping, it sounded like I was at a motorcycle rally,” she said. Vento and Ponter’s stories are not uncommon ones around the area, as Sgt. Jesse Fite with the Houston Police Department’s Metal Theft Unit said catalytic converter thefts are on the rise both in Houston and nationwide over the last six months. According to data from HPD, the department had fielded 935 calls related to stolen catalytic converters through the end of March – more than a 300 percent increase from the same period last year. HPD had 210 calls through the first three months of last year, according to the data – a figure that was individually outstripped in January (298 calls), February (329), and March (308) of this

Photo by Landan Kuhlmann Construction workers continue work along West T.C. Jester and West 18th Street in the Heights. The road improvement project is slated for completion in early June.

A major street improvement project at West T C Jester Blvd. and West 18th St. has been a hazard for drivers over the past month. According to Houston Public Works Public Information Officer Erin Jones, the project will soon be complete. “Completion is estimated for early June,” Jones said. “Crews are making base repairs before laying down the asphalt overlay for the entire project.” The work is part of the West 18th Street Improvement Project according to the Build

Houston Forward website. The project description calls for the replacement of asphalt and concrete pavement sections and base material depending on the street condition, including replacement of damaged curbs, sidewalks, and storm inlets as necessary along the major roadway within the limits of the project. New pavement markings will be implemented at various levels depending on the extent of roadway surface rehabilitation. Jones said that this project is utilizing existing Capital Improvement Program and bud-

geted resources available for street construction through the Dedicated Drainage and Street Renewal Fund, including transfers from METRO’s General Mobility Program funded by the 1-cent sales tax and the City’s Ad Valorem tax. Drivers have been frustrated by the deep holes at the intersection there although those have been filled in recently. Citizens can check on the status of Capital Improvement Projects and other Houston Public Works projects at buildhoustonforward.org in the “Find a Project” section.

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The Leader • Saturday, May 15, 2021 • Page 2A

HFD: Equipment failure causes Timbergrove apartment fire By Landan Kuhlmann landan@theleadernews.com

Authorities said an electrical short started a fire in a Timbergrove apartment laundry room late last month. No injuries were reported in the incident, according to the Houston Fire Department. HFD said crews responded

to Heights 2121 Apartments at 2100 Tannehill Dr. just before 6 p.m. April 20 to find fire coming from the roof of a small single-story laundry building in the complex. A concealed fire in the attic was the result of an electrical short, HFD said, which caused the fire that resulted in an estimated $6,000 in damage.

Ceramic planter pot stolen from Heights home By Landan Kuhlmann landan@theleadernews.com

Authorities say they are looking into the theft of a ceramic planter pot in the Heights last month that could potentially be connected to other cases in the area. The Harris County Precinct 1 Constable’s Office said potential suspects have been identified from a previous similar incident, but spokesperson Kevin Quinn said authorities are still investigating whether last month’s theft is connected to previous cases.

Precinct 1 said deputies responded to a theft call in the 400 block of West 22nd Street just before 9 a.m. April 23. According to Precinct 1, the homeowner said she noticed around 5 p.m. April 22 that a large ceramic planter pot was missing from the front porch of her house, but that she had seen the planter pot around 5 p.m. April 21. The homeowner’s surveillance cameras were not working during the time the theft may have happened, Precinct 1 said.

Heights garage fire under investigation By Landan Kuhlmann landan@theleadernews.com

Houston authorities say they are looking into a residential garage fire in the Heights last month. Nobody was reported injured in the incident, according to the Houston Fire Department.

HFD said crews responded to a home in the 700 block of East 23rd Street in late April to find a detached residential garage engulfed in flames, but extinguished it within minutes. According to HFD, arson investigators are working to determine the cause of the fire, which caused an estimated $70,000 in damages.

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Police Reports • May 1 - May 10 MAY 1

Assault AIRLINE Theft AIRLINE Theft WALTWAY Theft W 19TH Assault W 34TH

08:00 AM 1600 BLOCK 07:00 PM 1500 BLOCK 05:00 PM 6300 BLOCK 12:00 AM 300 BLOCK 07:00 PM 1100 BLOCK

MAY 2

Arrest 03:00 AM 1500 BLOCK N LOOP Theft 04:00 PM 1400 BLOCK NORTHWOOD Theft 07:00 AM 800 BLOCK FISHER

MAY 3

Burglary 02:00 PM 600 BLOCK E 38TH Theft 12:00 AM 4500 BLOCK N SHEPHERD

MAY 4

Assault 01:00 AM 400 BLOCK E 33RD Theft 09:00 PM 1000 BLOCK STUDE Theft 03:00 PM 1800 BLOCK N SHEPHERD Other 06:00 AM 200 BLOCK W CROSSTIMBERS Vandalism 03:00 PM 200 BLOCK W 20TH Robbery 06:00 PM 2600 BLOCK YALE Theft 06:00 PM 800 BLOCK W 42ND

MAY 5

Other 09:00 PM 500 BLOCK W 19TH Theft 04:00 PM 700 BLOCK T C JESTER Theft 06:00 PM 2000 BLOCK STUDEWOOD Burglary 04:00 AM 700 BLOCK W 42ND Theft 05:00 PM 500 BLOCK W 20TH Burglary 05:00 AM 200 BLOCK W 28TH Theft 12:00 PM 900 BLOCK LAWRENCE Other 08:00 AM 2000 BLOCK AIRLINE Assault 06:00 PM 800 BLOCK LOUISE Arrest 02:00 PM 700 BLOCK E 36TH

MAY 6

Vandalism 07:00 PM 500 BLOCK E 23RD Theft 05:00 PM 300 BLOCK N LOOP Theft 03:00 PM 1100 BLOCK

W 21ST Arrest 07:00 PM 1300 BLOCK E 29TH Assault 12:00 PM 1400 BLOCK E 36TH Theft 08:00 AM 1200 BLOCK W 14TH Assault 10:00 AM 800 BLOCK W 21ST Theft 08:00 AM 3400 BLOCK YALE Vandalism 07:00 AM 1000 BLOCK NADINE Theft 09:00 AM 2300 BLOCK AIRLINE Assault 04:00 PM 4100 BLOCK YALE Arrest 12:00 PM 3000 BLOCK AIRLINE Vandalism 04:00 AM 200 BLOCK E 44TH

MAY 7

Theft 04:00 PM 2100 BLOCK YALE Assault 06:00 PM 900 BLOCK GARDENIA Theft 10:00 PM 1100 BLOCK W 21ST Robbery 11:00 PM 1100 BLOCK N LOOP Theft 05:00 PM 1100 BLOCK W 31ST Assault 07:00 PM 200 BLOCK E 33RD Burglary 01:00 PM 600 BLOCK E 34TH Theft 01:00 PM 2100 BLOCK N DURHAM Burglary 01:00 PM 3900 BLOCK YALE Theft 08:00 PM 2200 BLOCK BEVIS

MAY 8

Assault 11:00 PM 900 BLOCK WINSTON Vandalism 03:00 AM 2600 BLOCK BEVIS Vandalism 01:00 AM 200 BLOCK W 19TH Burglary 04:00 AM 200 BLOCK N LOOP Theft 12:00 AM 900 BLOCK W 21ST Burglary 10:00 AM 1000 BLOCK YALE Arrest 12:00 PM 1800 BLOCK AIRLINE Other 07:00 PM 1400 BLOCK E 31ST Vandalism 01:00 PM 1000 BLOCK SHELTERWOOD Robbery 08:00 PM 5000 BLOCK E CROSSTIMBERS Other 04:00 AM 2200 BLOCK N SHEPHERD

MAY 9

Burglary 02:00 AM 1000 BLOCK

ALLSTON Theft 08:00 AM 1000 BLOCK W 17TH Theft 08:00 AM 3400 BLOCK NORTHWOOD Arson 03:00 PM 400 BLOCK CORONADO Arrest 12:00 AM 1100 BLOCK W 20TH Assault 04:00 PM 700 BLOCK YALE Assault 09:00 AM 1400 BLOCK E 31ST Assault 02:00 AM 3700 BLOCK REAGAN Theft 09:00 AM 4400 BLOCK YALE Assault 10:00 PM 1800 BLOCK E CROSSTIMBERS

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THE TOPICS. The Leader • Saturday, May 15, 2021 • Page 3A

Don’t give up on our small business owners

E

arly in my tenure as owner and publisher of The Leader, circa 2013, we began having a conversation in the office about how this area of Houston might change in the next decade. We imagined if Shepherd would look more like Kirby Drive or FM 1960. Would Ella surrender to fastfood overlords or shun franchises for local eateries? We had no idea 34th Street would become a hub for kiddie care and hair styles, and we certainly didn’t know a bunch of warehouses south of the Heights would transport you to a humid, scaleddown version of Reading Terminal Market. The transformation of our area of Houston exceeded everything we imagined some eight years ago. Home prices climbed, schools improved, healthcare became more abundant, and living in the neighborhoods to the immediate north and northwest of downtown became something of a status symbol across this enormous region. Want to know why our area of Houston has been, and continues to be, such a jewel? It’s because local people, risking their own money, have chosen to create a dynamic neighborhood that serves each and every one of us. It’s people like Gary Mosely and his group of restaurants. It’s Betty Heacker and her feed store – yep,

Jonathan McElvy Publisher

a feed store we all love. It’s Ken Bridge, Federico Cavatore and Greg Gatlin and their consistent food. It’s Kathryn and Sybren van der Pol and their relentless efforts to keep north Shepherd clean. It’s Alexis Legg and her painstaking investment to build another option for childcare. It’s Jodi Boyd and her salon just down the street. These people are microcosms of a greater community, made up of small business owners who have chosen to invest in our community, in our people and in our quality of life. Sure, they all want to reap the rewards of our patronage, but from personal experience, I can tell you they’ve all taken a risk to create this desirable neighborhood. Nearly 14 months ago now, most of our small businesses were forced to become skeletons, cutting all muscle from their operations. Some found new ways of doing business, some went into hibernation, and

some have locked their doors for good, saddled with debt from a business stolen by a virus. Today, as we’ve begun to emerge from this pandemic, and as schools plan to fully reopen next year, and as jobs become more available, and vaccines take their hold, our small business owners face a new set of threats – threats that just don’t seem fair. Earlier this week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced some shocking news that may not have meant a thing to you. Ever since the year 2000, the BLS has measured something called “open jobs.” It’s an indicator that tells us exactly what it says: How many jobs are currently available that haven’t been filled by new employees. Have you driven around town lately and taken a look in the windows of local businesses? It seems like every other one of them has a “Help Wanted” or “Now Hiring” sign screaming for help. That’s because the BLS announced earlier this week that we’re at an all-time record for the number of open jobs – 8.1 million, nationally, to be exact. Never, in the past 21 years, have we had so many open jobs. While that would sound like a good problem to have, and while it might indicate there are plenty of opportunities for the unemployed, the reality is that people aren’t coming back to work. It means

Out of our census

There are just a whole lot of Texans who don’t exist, at least according to our leaders. This is why. The preliminary headcount by the U.S. Census Bureau is out and Texans have some good news and bad news. As expected, the census shows that the state’s population has grown significantly. Remember that every morning when you wake up, there are about 1,000 more people in Texas than the day before – about half are born here, the other half are immigrants. Most of the growth came from 2019 to 2020 -- 373,965. That puts us at 29.8 million, but it’s still early in the day. The headcount has many effects on everybody and their money, a main one being how many U.S. Representatives each state gets. (The total number has been set at 435 since 1929.) The Census Bureau had predicted Texas would get three additional reps, putting us at 39. We only get two. Granted, that’s more than any other state gained, but it’s fewer than we deserve and it’s a self-inflicted wound. By design, our Republican state leaders made sure not all Texans were counted, especially minorities who tend to vote Democratic. Next thing you know the GOP will be making it even harder to vote. Texas already has the most stringent voting restrictions in the nation, and as you read these words our Legislature is trying to make it more difficult. When a census is looming, smart states launch a program to make sure all its people are counted. Minnesota started its 2020 census outreach in 2015. California allocated $187 million beginning in 2019 to get its people counted. And New York City – just the city -- spent $40 million to promote census counting. At least 27 states have spent more than $316 million on the effort, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Our Legislature in 2019 didn’t budget a dime to encourage census participation. A bill to commit $50 million to census response died in the Republican-controlled Legislature. Rep. César J. Blanco, an El Paso Democrat who sponsored the bill, claimed that the Legislature wanted to blunt a demographic shift that has strengthened Democrats. “They’re concerned that if you have a more accurate count, it would put them at a disadvantage.” That’s a nice way of putting it. Texas didn’t invest in a census program until last September, dedicating $15 million months after the count had begun. It gets worse. Attorney General Ken Paxton joined the Trump administration in pushing for a citizenship question on the census that experts said would depress the response rate among minorities. The U.S. Supreme Court threw out the case. Federal grants of some $1.5 trillion will go to the 50 states for transportation, social services, education and other

Lynn Ashby Columnist

programs, based on census results. The George Washington Institute of Public Policy estimated that even a 1 percent undercount could cost Texas nearly $300 million a year. That pile of cash – some of it Texans’ tax dollars -- is going to the other states. Here’s the ironic part: Texas, Arizona and Florida are Republican-run states that spent few dollars to count their citizens, and each ended up with one House seat less than the Census Bureau had forecast. But California and New York, controlled by Democrats, each lost one seat. So the GOP actually gained Electoral College votes. It’s not just the feds who will have undependable smaller stats on Texas. Our own state government won’t know how many of us live where. Neither will our counties, cities and school districts. Another problem: I refer to the Constitution’s census clause (Art. 1, Sec. 2, Clause 3). In 1901, a District Court ruled that clause did not limit the census to only a headcount of the population and “does not prohibit the gathering of other statistics, if necessary and proper.” Private companies have taken advantage of this taxpayer-funded headcount and plot where to build branches and warehouses and where to advertise what. Even with just two new seats in the House, this means two new Texans will go on the federal payroll. Who will they be? Look around for certain signs. Mark Twain wrote: “Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress, but I repeat myself.” This brings us to redistricting. Normally our Legislature would be dealing with this matter right now instead of opening the gun laws to anyone who can buy one, whether transgender girls should be allowed to compete in high school sports as females and, as mentioned, how hard they can make for some of us to vote. But Covid-19 has pushed back the census, so the lawmakers will have to meet in Austin in a special session next fall to divvy up the Legislative and Congressional districts. No doubt some legislators will neatly carve out district lines to assure they can run for Congress – and win. This sets up a domino effect as legislators open up their positions to city council members who like to become state lawmakers and their council slot is open, etc. etc. Currently we have one of the most gerrymandered states of the 50. Travis County (Austin) is divided into five Congressional districts. Rep. Michael

McCaul’s district is a string from Austin almost to Houston. If U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar drove through his district with his car doors open, he’d kill most of his constituents. Rep. Dan Crenshaw’s district looks like a Rorschach test. District 23 goes from San Antonio to this side of El Paso. The 20202021 census will show that rural Texas is losing population, while most of the growth is in the suburbs of big cities. Fort Bend County is ranked by Forbes as the fifth-fastest growing county in the United States. In the 2000s it grew by 39 percent. A quarter of the population is now Hispanic. How will Fort Bend’s district lines be drawn up to make sure their vote doesn’t count? Easy, they don’t exist. Ashby exists at ashby2@comcast.net

small business owners can’t find the help they need to run their businesses. It means some of those people who cut all the muscle from their operations are still running on skin and bones. People aren’t coming back to work for a number of reasons. Some are legitimately scared to leave home, even though vaccines are available for free with no appointment necessary. Other people are exiting the pandemic looking for new careers, living off stimulus and savings. And still others are receiving $900 per week of state and federal unemployment, and most small businesses can’t afford to pay the equivalent of $47,000 a year in salary for a person to stock the shelves. Getting their own employees back is just the start of it. Supply chains are broken because suppliers, too, can’t find people willing to work. And those who can come back to work are getting higher wages, which increases the cost of goods. In turn, small businesses – strapped for cash and hardly profitable – are having to pay more (inflation) for just the basics to run their businesses. If this sounds like a mess, that’s because it is. Our small business owners, the ones who make our community what it is, are finally able to open to full capacity and they can’t find people to work,

much less the money to buy everything they need to run a successful business. And that’s where you, the people who love this area of Houston because of those small businesses, must play a part. The next time you get in your car to go have a meal, or to get your oil changed, or to buy a graduation present, or to find a blouse for a dinner date, please understand the men and women who provide the commercial lifeblood of this community are living on life-support. If you’re at a restaurant, be patient and kind and understanding. There probably aren’t enough cooks in the kitchen. If the line at the check-out is a little longer, know the same person stocking the shelves is also the one running the register. More important, consider saying “thank you” the next time you see a worker serving four customers at once. A lot of the people who are still working at our small businesses don’t have to be there. They could have opted for unemployment, except they didn’t. This community is one of the best in the region because of those businesses that provide personal service. For goodness sakes, whatever you do, don’t give up on them now. Email jonathan@mcelvypartners.com

THE READER.

Email us your letters: news@theleadernews.com

Baker Katz purchases Foodarama building

Dear Editor: No more neighborhood stores left! Food City, H-E-B, Foodarama! Jeanette Black Dear Editor: Sad. Foodarama has exceptionally courteous employees and ready for your needs in a pinch at the very least. When other stores are out of important things at the holidays, Foodarama has them. My secret weapon for important groceries anytime of the year. Alice David Dear Editor: Annoying. It is nice to be able to run in there quick when you just need a few basics. Forget that with the horribly designed H-E-B. Carrie Schadle Dear Editor: That’s my neighborhood store. Why can’t they leave this alone? We don’t need more apartments and definitely no new bars. Lucy Ochoa

City considering contract for interactive digital kiosks

Dear Editor: Maybe they ought to think about repairing the

dilapidated streets in this city. Locally on parts of 19th Street in the “shopping district” the sidewalks are falling apart and concrete curbs are in chunks just laying there, and in other parts the streets are like driving through Bosnia. And there is new construction and tax revenue all around! I love this city, but for the life of me I cannot figure out why it cannot clean up its act. It is a darn shame. Steve Higgins Dear Editor: We don’t need more interaction with technology. We need interaction with humans. Julian Lewis

Spice level no joke at Mico’s

Dear Editor: Definitely a welcomed addition to our area. I’ve been a fan since their mobile food truck first set up in their then current brick and mortar location. I’ve been a loyal fan for over a year now and EVERY time I go the quality is as good as it was the first time! My order is always right and the employees are always friendly! Their hot sammich is probably my favorite. Their waffle fries are great and even travel well in the packaging used for their to-go orders and are still nice and crispy for the short drive home. I LOVE having them so close to the neighborhood as they’re one of my most visited cheat day meals! Jeanne Gebo

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

SUDOKU

aCrOss 1. Soybean paste 5. Unit of time 8. Watering holes 12. Joint 14. Certified public accountant 15 __ Mater, oneÕs school 16. Resells tickets 18. Batter’s objective 19. Past participle of lie 20. State of Islands 21. Fed 22. Cause cell destruction 23. Daily Show host 26. Diagrammed 30. Cat sounds 31. Most sorry 32. Do wrong 33. Coral reef and lagoon island 34. That (Middle English) 39. Electrically charged atom 42. Nassau is the capital 44. Frogs, toads, tree toads 46. Marjoram 47. Where the Donald lives in NYC 49. Whale ship captain 50. A way to emit sound

51. Comparable 56. Isodor __, American Nobel physicist 57. Businesswoman 58. A way to split up 59. Solo Operatic piece 60. No (Scottish) 61. In a way, tears 62. Bridge breadth 63. Single Lens Reflex 64. Thou __ protest too much 63. Single Lens Reflex 64. Thou __ protest too much

dOwn 1. Korean War TV show 2. South American Indian 3. Cape at tip of Denmark 4. A podrida cooking pot 5. Russian sourgrass soup 6. Perfect example 7. Supplier 8. Unhealthy looking 9. Spanish beaches 10. Am. follower of the Mennonite Bishop Amman 11. Well-balanced

13. Outer surface cells 17. Fathers 24. Sun up in New York 25. Dweller above the Mason-Dixon 26. Young women’s association 27. Tell on 28. Bustle 29. Poundal 35. An ugly, old woman 36. Doctors’ group 37. __ Ling, Chinese mountain range 38. Volcanic mountain in Japan 40. Leaves parentless 41. Existing in or produced by nature 42. Inclination 43. Extents 44. Peninsula between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf 45. Language of Nile 47. Twyla __, US dancer 48. Card game 49. River in E. Turkey to the Caspian Sea 52. Scored 100% 53. Tonight’s former host 54. __ and ends 55. Notable exploit

WORD SCRAMBLE


Page 4A • Saturday, May 15, 2021 • The Leader

BASEBALL/SOFTBALL ROUNDUP

St. Thomas rallies for TAPPS state baseball tournament berth By Landan Kuhlmann landan@theleadernews.com

The St. Thomas Eagles baseball team is accustomed to making the trip to Waco in recent years, often times with relative ease. That was not the case last week, however, as the Eagles needed a bevy of late-inning heroics to make it through once again and keep the program marching toward a potential state championship. St. Thomas used a threerun eighth inning to come back and defeat San Antonio Antonian Prep on May 6 in the Class 6A TAPPS regional final, erasing deficits of 3-0 and 6-4 in the process “It’s all about holding our mud and making the other team play well the whole game,” third-year head coach Adam Massiatte said after the game, which advanced the Eagles to their 10th TAPPS state tournament in the last 11 seasons. The Eagles did not register a hit until the sixth inning on May 6, but a leadoff double by Will Rizzo proved to be the spark they needed. Drew Tolson later doubled home Rizzo before later coming home on a sacrifice fly to tie the game

Photo from St. Thomas High School Twitter St. Thomas players celebrate after clinching a berth in their 10th state tournament berth in the past 11 years.

6-6. The Eagles scored the decisive run on an error by Antonian later in the inning before Grant Springer got the final three outs to keep the season alive. The Eagles (20-11-1) were scheduled to play district rival Tomball Concordia Lutheran on Wednesday at Waco ISD stadium in the 6A TAPPS semifinal. A win would advance them to a potential state title bout on Thursday morning as they remain in search of

Photo from St. Thomas High School Twitter St. Thomas Eagles head coach Adam Massiatte addresses his team. The Eagles were scheduled to play Tomball Concordia Lutheran on Wednesday in the TAPPS 6A Division 1 semifinals.

THIS WEEK’S PLAYOFF SCHEDULE BASEBALL

Class 6A Area Round Waltrip vs. Angleton One game playoff: 7 p.m., Friday, Channelview HS

the program’s 25th state championship. On the public school circuit, Waltrip advanced to the Class 5A area round after a 12-7 win over Angleton on May 7. The Rams (17-7-2) were slated to play

District 22-5A secondplace finisher Sante Fe (1912-1) on Friday. Elsewhere in local playoff baseball action, Scarborough dropped a 14-0 decision to Navasota to end their season with a

14-9 overall record. Heights also saw its season come to end after losses of 10-0 and 10-1 at the hands of District 17-6A champion Cy-Fair on May 7. The Bulldogs finished the 2021 campaign with a 10-17 mark. Softball In the area’s softball playoff action, St. Pius X Lady Panthers dropped a 10-6 decision to San Antonio Antonian Prep in

their May 7 regional final matchup. SPX ended the 2021 season with a 20-10 record, including the program’s first district title since 2015. On the public school playoff scene, the Heights Lady Bulldogs lost by scores of 10-0 and 19-3 to defending Class 6A champion Katy in the area round on May 7 to finish the season with a record of 15-8.

Local educators recognized for work in classroom By Landan Kuhlmann landan@theleadernews.com

One teacher from a local school was among the 12 finalists recently announced as candidates to be named Houston ISD’s 2020-2021 Elementary and Secondary teachers of the year, while another was recognized as one of the district’s brightest newcomers. Barbara Smith of Sinclair Elementary has been selected as one of six finalists for the elementary Teacher of the Year award. The two Teacher of the Year winners will go on to represent the district in Region IV, according to a news release from HISD. Additionally, the district said Heights High School’s Christen Smajstria was one of three educators to be recognized as Beginning Teachers of the Year. The 12 finalists were selected from all 280 schools based on performance data and other criteria, HISD said. Finalists will be recognized, along with Beginning Teachers of the Year, Librarian of the Year, Instructional Coaches of the Year and several other employee recognitions at the annual Educators of the Year event on June 15.

Smith

Smajstria

CORRECTION: In last week’s story, ‘Baker Katz purchases Foodarama building’, the first version online stated that Baker Katz also owned the retail center which houses Pappa Geno, a nail salon and a corner store. This is incorrect. Omid Sharifian is the owner of that retail center. The approximately 12,000 square feet of the retail center which Baker Katz purchased in 2016 was a former drug store which occupied space on the south end of the Foodarama building before they vacated and Foodarama expanded into the space. Baker Katz purchased the former drug store (11,750sf of building/33,100sf of land) in 2016 and closed on the balance of the building/land in April 2021. The Leader regrets the error.

Richard Allan Finn met Deborah Lynn Walker at M&J Valve Co on Hempstead highway in 1970. They were married at Golf Drive Baptist Church on May 22, 1971. Through 50 years of storms and sunshine, by God’s grace, they have learned to love deeper, forgive, laugh and never give up on each other. They have two sons and 5 charming grandchildren.

AMERICAN LEGION POST 560

3720 Alba Rd., Houston, Texas, 77018, is looking for an reliable individual/company to pick up on a regular basis glass containers for recycling, both beer and liquor bottles. The glass is free for the taking, with no liability expressed or assumed by the Legion. Interested parties may contact the Post Commander, Ms. Irene Infante at 4ireneinfante@gmail.com or calling the Legion

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GET Pray OVER IT!for Yourself Jesus was facing the most

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

I

n John 17:1-5 Jesus prayed for himself. He St. James Lutheran Church, ELCA Weekly Sunday Services Gethsemane Lutheran Church • Bible Study: 9:15 a.m. was preparing to go to t8PSTIJQ &OHMJTI   BNBN • Morning:10:30 a.m. We invite you to worship withus! • Evening: 4:15 p.m. his death and spent time in t-FBSOJOH)PVS   BNQN 1700 Sunday West 43 at Rosslyn School ........9:15 am MANNA 713-682-4942 prayer to prepare himself for t8PSTIJQ 4QBOJTI  QNQN Pastor – Dr. Richard Walters Sunday Worship......10:30am 4QPOTPS Ad # 32285 this incredibly difficult event Wednesday Bible Study 8FTUSE4Ut)PVTUPO 5Yt & Prayer 6:00pm Candlelight Church ofService Christ that he faced. In his prayer, Join us for Services FC Heights Family and Staff he prayed to God in heaven in English or Spanish Sunday Morning Worship 8:30 and 11:00 201 E. 9th St. • 713-861-3102 Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn Sunday Worship 10am & 5pm Sunday School for Children, Youth and Adults 9:40 and him, “Father.” not, and you will called not be condemned; forgive, Please website at: Sund visitforour Sunday Bible Classes 9am www.fbcheights.org Ministries All Ages and you will be forgiven... Wednesday Bible Study 7pm Home of Johnson Memorial School for Little Children When we pray it is important www.lazybrookbaptistchurch.org for the following: Rev. Nathan Lonsdale Bledsoe, Pastor 4215 Watonga Blvd. • 713-681-9365 R.S.V. Luke 6:37 Sunday Services: @ 9 AM and 2003 W. 43rd St.Wed 713-686-8241 s t s u m cIn-person .org Houston, TX 77092 to know that if we have 11 AM (Live stream during 11 AM service) trusted in Christ as Savior  Bible Studies: From Homepage, click on then we too can pray to God 1822 W. 18th • 713-864-1470 Connect/Small Groups as our Father. Praying to our heavenly Father means that we are praying to someone Gethsemane Lutheran Church who hears and answers our Pastor Jerry McNamara prayer. So, because this is 4040 Watonga • 713-688-5227 true, we must pray! We must We invite you to worship with us! take our personal requests Weekly Worship Services 9:00a.m. and needs to our heavenly Online services can be reached Father. through the website below at 9:00 am. 1822 W. 18th • 713-864-1470

1602 West 43rd St. • Houston, Tx 77018 • 713-686-1577

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difficult event in his life. He spent much time in prayer to prepare himself for the death that he would face. How much time do you spend praying about the events and circumstances in your life? Many people spend time planning, worrying, talking to friends and family about their problems, but the reality is for the Christian, that we need to take our requests to God in prayer! Jesus said in verse four, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” Jesus was praying to confirm God’s will for his life. Jesus clarified what God had sent him to do. We should be praying about what God wants for us and clarifying his direction for our lives beyond our own desires and plans. Pray for yourself ! Pray for God to give you what you need. Pray for God’s direction for his plan!


The Leader • Saturday, May 15, 2021 • Page 5A

Shortage, from P. 1A

Pivot, from P. 1A

now, it’s been people walking in who live in the neighborhood,” Pruitt said. “They see our sign and they come in and say they’re looking for a job. It’s been pretty unreliable trying to get people to even show up for interviews.” The struggle is a nationwide trend that the local neighborhood has not been exempt from experiencing, as there are a number of area businesses who may feel like they’re caught upstream without a paddle as they search for new hires. “It’s a strange dynamic, because there’s an increase in people needing help, but a decrease in the number of people who are wanting to work,” Express Employment Professionals owner Katy Kyle said. As a staffing agency, Express Employment Professionals works with both job seekers and businesses seeking new help. But as the pandemic has worn on, she the agency has seen fewer job seekers – and as a franchised location at 1235 N. Loop W, the hiring shortage has extended to both them and the employers.

One of the significant reasons for the shortage, Kyle believes, is the readily available unemployment available at both the state and federal level. Extended unemployment lasts until mid-September – and in Texas, someone can receive up to $900 per week in unemployment. That comes out to nearly $47,000 per year. “People are not wanting to go to work when they can sit at home and ride it for as long as they want,” she said. “…On unemployment, you have to check in to show that you’ve been looking, and we’re the first place people like that go to.” Miller agreed, but also believes there are a few other potential factors. “I think fear is a big one – people are afraid to come back to work,” he said. “I think people are trying to ease into this situation.” About two weeks ago, Pruitt said he posted four openings on Indeed, and they have only received 20 applications so far. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, he said he would receive 10 to 20 a day.

beer distributorship that supplies retailers like Spec’s and Whole Foods. In a full circle moment, they also partnered with Rachael Volz, the owner of A Fare Extraordinaire, to sublease new warehouse and kitchen space. They have now produced and sold 2,500 bottles of cocktail mixers. While Laura is still working in a freelance capacity for a marketing firm, the flexibility to work from home has helped her devote time to Modern Vintage and to her family. “It’s been very busy, but it’s really worked out well,” she said. Right now, Modern Vintage has four year-round mixes: Grapefruit Lemon Basil, Spiced Old Fashioned, Spicy Strawberry Basil and Ginger Margarita. In July, they will offer the seasonal Coconut Chipotle Pineapple, which Laura said Adrian let her develop for her 40th birthday. “I wanted to put a spin on a classic daiquiri,” she said. “I love that surprising twist.” Fall will bring Blood Orange Rosemary. Pomegranate Thyme will debut in the winter. A recent boon is a partnership with famed Houston restaurateur Lee Ellis. Ellis has moved to Round Top and established The Ellis Motel, which he calls “a lounge and emporium.” When Laura

“In my opinion, not our company’s opinion, I would assume it has something to do with the pandemic,” he said. “I don’t know if people are still worried about going out or working in public or working in places where people do have their masks off to eat sometimes. We’ve been able to retain a good amount of our staff. We do what we can to keep everybody safe, all of our staff wears masks every day.” White said Miller’s is almost back to its normal crowd during business hours. However, new hires have not yet been able to match up with what is needed to best run the restaurant. He said he can make do, but it’s going to be a battle. “Typically, on a lunch or dinner shift, I need to have at least four people in the kitchen – it’s best to have five so the other can be a food-runner,” he said. “During the pandemic, I had to cut it down to three or two for a while. And we’ve been operating with three for a while, because I just can’t find anybody.”

Contributed photo Laura and Adrian Tracy’s Modern Vintage has begun to get picked up by retailers.

reached out to him through Instagram, Modern Vintage got a new fan. The Tracys will do private label mixes for Ellis. “He loved our story, and he loved our product,” Laura said. It is a story that would not have happened without a number of things taking place – or as Laura says, “the perfect storm” of job loss, her working from home, other people stuck at home and a renewed desire to support local. “The opportunities continue to present themselves,” Laura said. “So many people believed in us. There really has been an outpouring of support.” For more information, visit drinkmodernvintage.com.

Converters, from P. 1A year. “We’re running around playing whack-a-mole trying to plug all the holes here and put a stop to it,” Fite said. “It’s a nationwide thing, not just a Houston thing.” According to Fite, the most likely reason for the uptick in calls is the increase in the price of rhodium, a precious metal contained in the exhaust of a catalytic converter along with cerium, copper, iron, manganese, nickel, palladium, and platinum, which began late last year. As recently as last summer, he said rhodium went for about $575 an ounce. It is now going in excess of $20,000 per ounce, making converter theft a lucrative practice. “If they know what they’re doing, it takes less than two minutes. They can do it really fast,” he said. Vento and Ponter have unfortunately both been on the receiving end of such a quick entrance and exit. Ponter said she was not at the shopping center for more than 30 minutes, while Vento estimated her

trip inside was at most 10 minutes. “(The store) didn’t have what I needed, so I just turned around and walked out. And in that amount of time, it was gone,” Vento said. “…I looked underneath, and there was the whole section missing out from under my car. I couldn’t believe how clean the cut was. It was just incredibly bizarre.” Close to home Even more jarring for them and other local residents, is that their thefts occurred in broad daylight and right in their own neck of the woods. Vento was at the center around 6 p.m. the evening of her incident in March, while Ponter said she made her trip around 2 p.m. “That’s how bold they are,” Ponter said. “…You never think people are just going to take parts of your car.” Fite said one of the hot spots for converter theft calls have been on the north side of the city in neighborhoods such as Garden Oaks, Oak Forest, the Heights, Timbergrove

dents similar to what happened to Vento and Ponter. Texas Occupation Code 1956 and City of Houston, Code Ch. 7 currently regulate the sale of catalytic converters to metal recyclers, and information required for each sale – which is about 2,000 per week in Houston/Harris County according to Fite – is reported to law enforcement. Under a new rule approved April 5, Fite said city of Houston metal recyclers have to take pictures of every side of the catalytic converters and make the information available to law enforcement. As such, he said there are a few suggestions the department has for making converters more easily connected to a specific vehicle if someone attempts to sell a stolen converter. One option is to engrave a number – such as the VIN or license plate number with the state. Another tactic could be to add bright automotive exhaust spray paint in a generous portion onto the convert-

and others. All cars and trucks are equipped with catalytic converters, and Fite said areas such as the shopping center Vento and Ponter frequent and restaurant parking lots – among others – that are prevalent in those areas can serve as the stomping grounds for potential theft. That realization has been an adjustment for residents such as Ponter who simply could not comprehend such a thing happening right there under their noses. “I’m kind of just waiting for it to happen again, unfortunately,” she said. Vento echoed the sentiment. “I was in shock when we figured it out – it felt bizarre to know they could do that in that amount of time in broad daylight,” she said. “It’s one of those things where you think “It’s never going to happen to me.” Ever vigilant In light of the increase in incidents, Fite said HPD as well as the city and Harris County are taking steps in an effort to mitigate inci-

er. By adding bright paint, Fite said residents can create a visible deterrent to alert suspects to move on. This paint also signals law enforcement and recyclers to look deeper for serial numbers or identification marks. “They would see the engraving on there, and the rule says they have to document the engraving for law enforcement so we can track it back to you,” Fite said. “…and putting (bright paint) is like putting bars on your house windows – they see a bright orange catalytic converter, and they’ll just go away.” In the meantime, however, the trend has created an uneasy sense for those such as Vento or Ponter with every trip to the grocery store or shopping center, making them wonder if it will be curbed anytime soon. “Every time I get ready to start my car, I’m wondering if it’s going to happen again,” Vento said. “It’s a weird feeling.”

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The Leader • Saturday, May 15, 2021 • Page 7A

Art Valet: Shop til you drop at Houston’s multiple markets Mitch Cohen Art Columnist

Lately, several people have commented on how excited they are that my markets are finally back. Newsflash: they both reopened last June. Albeit, with a very limited exhibitor list and extreme social distancing in place at the start. I still brag that I may have been the first event coordinator to give everybody a corner booth! What I find surprising about the welcome back comments is there are more outdoor markets today than I have seen in the 17 years I’ve been in this business. You’re likely to pass one coming or going on any weekend and some weekday afternoons. First Saturday and Sawyer are focused solely on art and the maker is the seller, respectively. The maker is the seller is a very literal phrase meaning the person you are talking to, made the product they are selling. Who better to get a feel for the new markets and their impact than the exhibitors that attend my markets? I asked both groups if the influx of new markets is a benefit to their business and if the new markets are a good thing or not and why? Clifton Gillock is cofounder of Kicpops, gourmet popsicles. Kicpops got its start at outdoor markets and has been expanding ever since. Find them at kicpops.com. “The influx of new markets definitely has its pros and cons,” Gillock said. “One of the benefits is attracting new customers to the “market industry.” For our business, it is absolutely critical to have public vending opportunities available on a weekly basis. However, with that said not all markets are created equal. I personally won’t take chances with new markets unless I am absolutely certain there is a team or individual behind the market curating a lineup of unique experienced vendors as well as doing their own PR and marketing to drive good attendance.” Heather Wobbe is a fulltime jeweler and can attend the different types of markets and likes the options. “As someone who completely relies on markets to make a living I love having weekly options,” Wobbe said. “Yes there are quite a few popping up but there are some great ones out there that are very helpful to people like me trying to survive a pandemic on a single fulltime artisan income. I rarely see more options as a bad thing but it can be difficult navigating all of the different locations if you haven’t done your research.” Tina Couet creates stained

Photo by Ana Guzman

John Delafield asks questions before joining a new market.

Photo by Gisele Parra Photography Houston Winery owner Jon Burger, left, with Morgan Konarik at one of the many markets they attend weekly.

Photo by Ana Guzman Trishnna Tea owner Saurabh Kajaria left, helps customers at Sawyer Yards.

Shoppers explore various items at Tina Couet’s booth, Sunshine Sunbeams.

glass décor, find her on Facebook as SunshineSunbeams. “I have found going to events weekly and being ‘open’ is best for me,” Couet said. “I go to different locations in a 150-mile radius. That way I don’t saturate any area.” “All the new markets popping up, are bad, especially in a small area (like in the Heights). Customers are confused by the different types of markets, so when they get to a quality art market, they have sticker shock and want farmer market prices,” said Couet. John Delafield is a ceramic artist and asks questions before signing up for a new market. Find him on Facebook as delafieldpottery. “Each market is different and runs differently,” Delafield said. “What is the motive of the organizer? Are they wanting to bring something special to the community? Are they wanting to sell spaces to vendors? City or community organized events have good motives in my

experience. Church events are very limited in who attends. Farmer’s markets are a mixed bag. Art markets attract the right patrons for me. I’m always interested in a market but I am skeptical of new markets until they prove themselves to the vendors.” Saurabh Kajaria co-owns Trishna Tea with his wife, they make hand blended tea grown in the foothills of the Himalayas. Find them at trishnnatea.com. “New markets are a great launchpad for small businesses to test out their products and concepts,” Kajaria said. “The caveat - running a market is no child’s play… the hot 100˚ days and the thunderstorms challenge our resolve on quite a few occasions throughout the year … thanks to HTX weather.” Search social media to find new markets near you. This Saturday is a rare makeup date for First Saturday Arts Market, rained out on May 1. The danger of naming a market after the date. 530

Photo by Ana Guzman

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Cohen is an artist and founder of the First Saturday Arts Market and the Market at Sawyer Yards. Find him at ArtValet.com for additional highlights and artist’s stories.

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Page 8A • Saturday, May 15, 2021 • The Leader

Heights artist throws caution to the wind By Betsy Denson betsy@theleadernews.com

Heights artist John Carroll Runnels is inspired by the everyday. His sculpture “What Goes Around Comes Around” for True North, the Heights Boulevard sculpture project, is made up of more than 350 hubcaps. Now, it is hazard signs that have his – and everyone else’s – attention at a new project on Richmond Avenue at Fountainview called SAFE HOUSE- SIGNs of the TIMES. “I have been collecting these glorious caution/hazard signs and hazard blinking lights for 30 years,” Runnels said. He said that he complied them awaiting inspiration, which came both from the caution colors as well as Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower,” which his grandson Tristan used as his poem of choice to present to his 4th grade class. “It is a song that is always in the back of my mind and on the tip of my tongue,” he said. The finished 16-foot sculpture, consisting of both contemporary polyethylene and old wooden planks, does look like a house of sorts, but as one of the fabricators from Astro Fence company noted, there are no windows or doors. Runnels said that painting and arranging each side of the SAFE HOUSE was both tedious and fun. “The oblique stripes [lead] the eye in one direction while herringbone chevron military configurations play spatially

Contributed photo Runnels painstakingly numbered the 120 boards before he delivered them to his fabricator.

with illusions of advancing and receding planes,” he said. Before delivering the numbered planks to fabricators – 21 planks per side and 120 boards in all – Runnels was on all fours double checking the measurements in his studio. It took six men to raise the SAFE HOUSE on Richmond and the 4 x 4-foot sculpture is secured with a 5 x 5-foot concrete base. There are flashing hazard lights on each side with sensors that will start blinking at night. In his artist statement, Runnels said the piece is a response to the precariousness of life, acknowledging there are forces out there greater

than oneself. “SAFE HOUSE is also a towering response during [COVID 19],” he said. “These safety traffic barricade signs - Warning Signs - have been used to shape a Safe House Art Watch Tower, notice NO windows or doors. [It’s] a metaphor for the insecurity and security and comforts of ‘home sweet home.’” SAFE HOUSE is part of the Richmond Ave Public Art Project, an initiative of the St. George Place Redevelopment Authority to rebuild and enhance critical infrastructure within the Redevelopment Zone. The installation is the start of a program along Rich-

mond Avenue that will continue all the way to Hillcroft Street. “By acknowledging the role of art and culture as economic development drivers the 25,000+ people driving Richmond Avenue every day will be able to enjoy a rotating ‘museum in the medians’ showcasing local, contemporary art,” said Bill Hutz, Chairman of the George Place Redevelopment Authority. “In these unusual and challenging times, this seems especially timely and fitting.” Gus Kopriva, the owner of Redbud Gallery on 11th, was a driving force of the True North installations on the es-

Contributed photo A collector of caution signs for years, artist John Runnels was inspired to use them for a new esplanade project on Richmond.

planade of Heights Boulevard. He is also the curator of the Richmond Ave Public Art Project, which has 10 exhibits now installed. He is the curator, too, for a similar project along Long Point in Spring Branch. “I hope to do more and more of these,” Gus Kopriva said. “Civic pride and confidence are fostered, and quality of life is improved.” Runnels said he thinks SAFE HOUSE integrates into the urban landscape, sharing

space with a fire hydrant, No U-Turn Signage, two manhole covers and one tree, but he also adds something special. “Richmond Avenue is a major Houston thoroughfare lined with a diversity of businesses,” he said. “Landscaping of the esplanade should be finished next week to complete the enhancement of the neighborhood with a windshield perspective of artwork seen along this new Sculpture Trail.”

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The Leader • Saturday, May 15, 2021 • Page 1B

Local sushi outposts drive invention By Zarah Parker zarah@theleadernews.com

Change is inevitable. That’s how chef Man Nguyen of Hando, 518 W. 11th St., sees the world, including the sushi industry. One of those changes is in the accessibility of the Japanese cuisine. “We don’t just look at sushi as a once a month dining option, but now it’s just an option,” Nguyen said. Sushi is more available, with more and more restaurants popping up that serve it, both with high and low prices. The more restaurants that open the more exposure people have to the cuisine, eventually leading people to add it to their weekly lunch or dinner options. Nguyen also said he sees the style of restaurant shifting as well, including an opportunity for more fast casual and counter service restaurants. This will shift the sushi landscape even more, as things become served in an on-the-go way. “Everything is served more small bite style,” Nguyen said. “Now, there are more ‘izakayastyle’ Japanese restaurants than full-on ‘sushi’ restaurants opening up.” An Izakaya-style of dining is a similar concept to “family dining.” It’s a casual establishment where patrons are more likely to order a variety of small plates to be shared among the table. The shifts in trend of sushi also are found on the menu, as chefs look for more new ways to be inventive with a cuisine that’s been around for centuries. One such item is on Hando’s menu. Its steak and egg hand roll is a play of Nguyen’s favorite breakfast, steak and eggs, which is combined with a Japanese twist. “The steak is done very simple with plain seasoning and sous vide to right tenderness,” Nguyen said. “The ‘egg’ part is a Japanese dish that consists of just egg yolks cooked over a low heat and constantly stirred to create a fine powder, also known as oboro.” The fried leeks that are rolled with it add a sweet flavor and another texture to the dish. At Handies Douzo, 3510 White Oak Dr., the co-founders and chef Patrick Pham and Daniel Lee, have established culinary backgrounds in Japanese cuisine and sushi, but are Vietnamese and Korean by blood. According to co-founder Andrew Lin, they use their background to be inventive in the sushi world, specially by using sauces that aren’t typically found in Japanese cuisine. They also take influence from the environment.

“The Spicy Tuna has habanero sauce instead of a traditional Japanese spice,” Lin said. “We’re playing into the environment of Houston.” People are getting more familiar with eating raw fish, and because of that, consumers are more interested in unique and exotic fish. This means that as the industry grows, the menus will also feature less common fish. “Inventive creations only pushes the envelope, so I hope there will be more,” Nguyen said.

Photos from Facebook Sushi is becoming more readily available in the local area with unique dishes such as the Tuna Wellington (above) and the Lobster Ceviche (right) at Hando Sushi.

Jennifer M. Solak Attorney & Counselor at Law

Sushi popularity continues to grow

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Sushi seems to be one of those foods people either love or hate, but at the same time the latter I find are usually people who have never tried raw fish or just haven’t had the chance to eat quality sushi. The majority, I think, love sushi. One of the contributing reasons I say that is because of the rise of sushi restaurants in The Leader’s coverage area. Most sushi places have popped up in just the last couple of years, with a few more set to open. Tamashi Ramen & Sushi, 1214 W. 43rd St., Jellyfish Sushi, 3434 Ella Blvd., Hando, 518 W. 11th St., Handies Douzo, 3510 White Oak Dr., and Ume, 2802 White Oak Dr., are the spots that have opened within in the last two years. Soon, the area will gain two more sushi spots with Fuku, 1902 Washington Ave., which is headed up by the same team behind Handies Douzo, and Blue Sushi Sake Grill, 600 N. Shepherd Dr., which will open up in the M-K-T development. Sushi has a long history, but really only started becoming a dish in America less than a century ago. Now, sushi is as regular to most people’s diets as tacos. If your taste buds have tried sushi, you know why. The most obvious reason sushi is so popular now is the taste. I think about it as an explosion of flavor in a small amount and you don’t often experience that in other dishes. There are three different ways to eat sushi. Most of the time when someone is talking about sushi, they’re talking about fish and rice in some kind of wrap or rolled together. Sashimi is just the meat, sliced and served, and Nigari is the meat and rice, but without it being in a roll. Different types of fish, and crab, also provide an extensive

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Jellyfish Sushi is one of the newer sushi spots in the community at 3434 Ella Blvd.

Contributed photo

Sushi usually has a more “upscale” feel about it, even when the sushi is set at a more affordable price, like a Jellyfish Sushi where it serves good sushi at a good price and is an easy place to bring the whole family to. Sushi is only going to become more and more popular as new and inventive ways of crafting the raw fish hit the market, and I love watching that happen.

Facebook photo Tamashi Ramen and Sushi has a variety of sushi options available for the neighborhood.

variety, plus other styles of sushi are gaining popularity as well, like hand rolls. Basically, sushi is never boring. Sushi is also going to be healthier than most other dishes. Most often sushi is made with rice, vinegar and fresh raw fish. While it’s not without calories or fat, you’re going to get something better for you while eating sushi, rather than eating a cheeseburger or chicken nuggets.

Along with that, sushi isn’t going to make you feel like a potato after it’s consumed either. It’s a lighter food that satiates in the best way possible—making you feel full without making your stomach feel weighed down. I also notice more and more people are being more adventurous when eating. And eating raw fish can get pretty adventurous the deeper the dive into sushi one goes.

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Page 2B • Saturday, May 15, 2021 • The Leader

Review: Go with the roll at Handies Douzo By Zarah Parker zarah@theleadernews.com

I’m no stranger to sushi, but after trying hand rolls for the first time at Handies Douzo, I surprised even myself with how quickly the dish became a favorite. The restaurant feels like home, and not just because it’s literally in a house on White Oak Drive, but the bar seating, friendly servers and relaxed atmosphere make the space ideal for any day of the week. The bar seating, which is shaped like a horse shoe, sits all the guests together. Currently, there are clear dividers to keep neighbors of different parties separated due to COVID-19. In the middle of the seating, servers work together to explain the menu, answer questions and serve the food. Since the seating is so limited, reservations are definitely recommended. The server that went over the menu with me said the best way to enjoy a variety of the hand rolls was to order the set of five, which included the BGB Sake, Negitoro, Kani, Spicy Tuna and Avocado. The rolls came out one at a time. This gave me ample opportunity to enjoy each one without having to immediately

Pictured is the Spicy Tuna hand-roll from Handies Douzo.

jump to another. BGB Sake is king salmon and was folded in with warm rice with a seaweed wrapped around it. The combination of the cold fish and warm rice was something I really enjoyed with every hand roll. The seaweed wrap gave it a salty crispy layer and wasn’t chewy at all. My favorite thing about salmon is its lack of “fishiness.” In the roll it was soft with a hint of sweetness. With the Negitoro there’s an option to add Bowfin Caviar,

and I did. The Negitoro, which is tuna, had a rich flavor and a fatty texture. The caviar gave the roll what I’ll describe as a splash of ocean water. It wasn’t in-your-face fishy, which I liked. The texture was like little jelly beads. The Kani, crab, is the first roll that come with a slice of cucumber wrapped with the meat and rice. The balance of crispy seaweed, warm rice, melt-in-your-mouth crab and crunchy cucumber was perfect. Like the Negitoro, the Spicy

Photo by Zarah Parker

Tuna features fatty tuna. This one I’d recommend to anyone trying sushi for the first time. The flavor is mild and fresh, and the spice gives it a kick. The Avocado hand roll was fun. It came with avocado, cucumber, rice and cilantro. There was added seasoning and crunch in the roll that added to the layers of flavor and texture. Each roll was different, but something that was consistent was that great balance of flavor, texture, and temperature in every roll.

Food briefs: City Orchard launches cider club By Zarah Parker zarah@theleadernews.com

City Orchard, 1201 Oliver St., recently launched the Bad Apple Club. Each quarter (October, January, April and June) the members of the Bad Apple Club will receive select ciders from City Orchard’s seasonal releases, limited-run ciders and club-exclusive ciders. The package will be shipped with tasting notes and parings. Members will also have access to videos of virtual tastings with City Orchard’s founders, 10 percent off in City Orchard’s taproom, discounted pricing on additional ciders added to the club release and access to pre-sale tickets to cidery events. The Bad Apple Club membership has a two options. Members can choose to receive three or six bottles a quarter. The former costs $55 each quarter and the second $100 each quarter. For more information visit cityorchardhtx.com/ badappleclub.

Next I ordered the Kanpachi Crudo, which came with four pieces of Amberjack fish in Thai chili and sanbaizu sauce. Slices of cherry tomato and onion were placed over top. It smelled and tasted slightly fruity. The Amberjack is a very soft fish that is gummy to bite into. The combination of fruity with the fish was interesting. As I was leaving the restaurant, the servers all said “See you tomorrow,” as they had done with all the leaving

customers, but I couldn’t help thinking they just might. Handies Douzo Address: 3510 White Oak Dr. Hours: 4-10 p.m. SundayThursday, 4-11 p.m. FridaySaturday Pricing: $10-$29 Kid-friendly: No Alcohol: Yes Healthy options: Yes Star of the show: BGB Sake hand-roll

Since 1928 For over 80 years, we’ve cared enough to think about the very worst. Through tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, and more, Farmers has been on the scene helping people start rebuilding since 1928. No one wants to think about all the things that can go wrong. But at Farmers, that’s what we’ve been doing for the last 80 years.

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Contributed photo City Orchard has launched the Bad Apple Club, a rewards club membership available for its most diehard cider fans.

Cheba Hut coming to Sawyer Yards The Arizona-based chain Cheba Hut is planning an expansion in Houston at Sawyer Yards, according to Eater Houston. Permits from Cheba Hut have been filed with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, which indicate the chain will pop up at 2150 Edwards St. Cheba Hut is a stoner-themed sandwich shop that dishes out “toasted” subs. While nothing at the shop will actually be infused with marijuana, the website says the concept has been dedicated to curing munchies since 1998. The menu will feature over 30 sandwiches, a variety of Rice Krispy treats and more. Brewery hosting microchip event Astral Brewing, 4816 N. Shepherd Dr., is co-hosting a free microchip event for pets with the Animal Justice League on Saturday from noon-3 p.m. Pet owners don’t need to make an appointment, all cats and dogs are welcome. Animals have to either be on a leash or in an appropriate carrier.

Photo by Zarah Parker Pictured is the Kanpachi Crudo from Handies Douzo.

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Houston Storm Baseball

Houston Storm is looking for 9u-12u players to complete rosters for select teams in the Oak Forest/ Heights area. For more info email:

Coachron1118@gmail.com Photo from Facebook City Orchard recently launched the Bad Apple Club, a membership that will give patrons access to ciders, discounts and more.

281-639-4475 Ron Smith

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The Leader • Saturday, May 15, 2021 • Page 3B

Boat Safety for Dogs: Keeping dogs safe and happy Dear Tabby, We are new boat owners and we would like to start taking our dog out on the boat with us. Any tips for keeping her safe and happy while on the boat? Boat Enthusiasts in Brooke Smith Dear Boat Enthusiasts, It’s almost officially summer and with summer comes longer days and more time spent on or near the water. If you have a boat, you will undoubtedly enjoy time on the water this summer and bringing your favorite pet along can only add to your enjoyment. However, boating with dogs has its own set of health and safety matters to consider. Let’s go over a short list of what you might need to remember when taking your dog with you on the boat. Life Jacket You probably already have life jackets for the humans who will be riding on your boat, but did you know that your dog could benefit from having a life jacket too? Even

if your dog is a strong swimmer at the shoreline, when out in the middle of a large body of water, all bets are off. And, adding to that equation are boat wakes and debris in the water--your dog could have real trouble swimming if she goes overboard. Make sure to get a life jacket that will be comfortable for your dog, ideally brightly-colored so that you can easily spot her if she goes in, and that it fits properly. Sunscreen Yes, there is sunscreen especially formulated for dogs and your dog could probably use some on her ears, nose and other vulnerable areas of her body. The sun’s rays can be even more intense on the water, so be sure to keep your dog covered so that she doesn’t get a painful sunburn. FIrst Aid Kit Have a first aid kit handy in case your dog needs bandages, antibiotic ointment or even motion sickness medication (generally vets recommend 2 to 4 mg per pound of your pet’s body weight of medications such as Dramamine--but please check with your vet first to make sure that it’s safe for your dog).

A Leash While the leash is the first thing you grab when going on a walk with your dog, you might not think to bring it along on the boat. But you will need the leash when taking your dog for much-needed potty breaks during a day of boating. Even though humans can (ahem) find alternative places to potty while on the open water, dogs still need a good patch of grass, so plan your boating trip so that you have land-lubber potty breaks scheduled throughout the day. Fresh Water and Shade Please make sure that your dog has plenty of places to escape from the harsh rays of the sun while on the boat. Also bring plenty of drinking water for your dog. Don’t rely on your pooch drinking water from the lake--that can cause her stomach to get upset. Enjoy your boat and keep your dog’s health and safety in mind when planning time out on the water this summer! “Baby step” your dog into the boating life and don’t hesitate to leave her at home if it doesn’t seem like she will enjoy it. Do you have a question for Tabby? Email her at deartabby questions@gmail.com.

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Meet Potbelly Potbelly (AKA Belle) is a 2.5 year old bulldog mix who showed up in rescue with a belly full of puppies (hence her name). Potbelly was a good mama, but now she’s ready for her new life to begin. Potbelly is sweet, calm and loveable and would likely do well with kids as well. Cats are probably a no-go for Potbelly though. To learn more about Potbelly, go to: www.k9angelsrescue.org.

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Page 4B • Saturday, May 15, 2021 • The Leader

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