Leader November 27

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Something For Everyone on Your List!

Inside Today: A holiday shopping tour of 19th Street • Page 4B

Flower & Gift Shop

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Saturday, November 27, 2021 • Vol. 66 • No.48

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Longtime state senator plans run for mayor By Adam Zuvanich azuvanich@theleadernews.com

State Sen. John Whitmire, the longest-tenured senator at the capitol building in Austin, filed for re-election last week and will be back on the ballot in 2022. He’s also eyeing a run for Houston mayor in 2023. Whitmire, a 72-year-old Democrat who represents the Heights, Garden Oaks and Oak Forest areas in Senate District 15, told supporters at a Nov. 17 fundraising event in Houston

he will seek to succeed Mayor Sylvester Turner, whose second and final term ends in January 2024. Whitmire made the announcement toward the end of a 20-minute speech in which he talked about his goals for the next Texas Legislature session and expressed concerns about the state of his home city, saying he was approached about a possible mayoral run about a year ago and has since received encouragement from a variety of Houston stakeholders on both sides of the political aisle.

“I’m no longer considering it. We’re not asking people. We’re running for mayor, and we intend to win,” Whitmire said during his speech, a video of which he shared with The Leader. “We’re planning on winning with your help.” Whitmire confirmed his plans for a mayoral run in a Nov. 18 text message to The Leader, adding, “I have unfinished business in Austin.” The chair of the Senate CommitContributed photo tee on Criminal Justice said State Sen. John Whitmire, speaking at podium, is running for he wants to get re-elected re-election in 2022 and also plans to run for mayor of Houston See Whitmire P. 5A in 2023. He has represented the area since the 1970s.

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INSIDE.

Photo by Landan Kuhlmann A community member takes a turkey from a volunteer during a giveaway last Saturday at the Leonel Castillo Community Center, 2101 South St. The event was hosted by Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia to provide Thanksgiving meals.

Northside giveaway provides 500 Thanksgiving meals By Landan Kuhlmann landan@theleadernews.com

It’s been an Honore. Frank Black Middle School is in search of a new principal.

Page 4A

With the holiday season kicking into high gear this week, many families will likely gather around the table to celebrate the time and fellowship with one another over a bountiful Thanksgiving meal. For a few hundred families in the Near Northside area, that opportunity will be a direct result of an effort by the office of Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia over the weekend. Last Saturday, Garcia’s office hosted its third annual Thanksgiving turkey giveaway at two locations, including the Leonel Castillo Community Center at 2101 South St. Garcia’s office partnered with the Houston Food Bank to give away 1,000 turkeys in all – 500 at each site – along with complete Thanksgiving meals that included chips, fruit, bread and more. “(Giveaways) are always something that’s been in my heart. But to do it at this level and magnitude is See Turkey P. 5A

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Church....................................................... 4A Classifieds.............................................. 5A Coupons. ................................................. 3B Food/Drink............................................. 7A Obituaries.............................................. 4A Opinion. ................................................... 3A Public Information......................... 2A Puzzles...................................................... 3A

See District I P. 5A

HFD battles blaze in Garden Oaks

Coming soon. An upscale senior living community is under construction in Shady Acres.

THE INDEX.

Photo by Landan Kuhlmann A volunteer loads Thanksgiving food into the back of a car during a community giveaway last Saturday in Near Northside.

Houston ISD trustee candidate Janette Garza Lindner received 625 fewer votes than incumbent Elizabeth Santos on Nov. 2, which suggests she faces an uphill climb in the upcoming runoff. But Garza Lindner wants to look on the bright side. She also wants to look for a way to close the gap in the race for the District I seat, which Santos serves a geographic area that includes the Heights, Garden Oaks and Northside neighborhoods. Santos received 41.6 percent of the 9,480 votes cast during Garza Lindner early voting and on Election Day, which means more people voted for her two challengers – Garza Lindner and Matias Kopinsky, the latter of whom was third in the race with 23.5 percent of See related District VII runoff the vote. So Garza story on Lindner is hopeful that voters who Page 4A previously supported Kopinsky will cast their ballots for her in the Dec. 11 runoff, with early voting scheduled for Nov. 29-Dec. 7. “They wanted change, right?” Garza Lindner said. “Well, I’m here. That’s what I’m here to let them know. I’m here to help them achieve the change they hope to achieve.” Santos hopes to maintain her advantage over Garza Lindner, who received

By Adam Zuvanich azuvanich@theleadernews.com

The Houston Fire Department dispatched more than 100 firefighters to the Garden Oaks area last Friday, Nov. 19 to battle a blaze that erupted at a warehouse building at 885 Wakefield Dr., according to the fire department. No injuries were reported by Photo from Facebook HFD, which was still investigating The Houston Fire Department responded to a ware- the cause of the fire as of press house fire on Nov. 19 at 885 Wakefield Dr., at one time Sunday. point issuing a shelter-in-place order for the area. The fire department said the

three-alarm fire started a little before 9 a.m. Nov. 19 at a furniture warehouse east of the intersection of Wakefield and Alba Road. It produced heavy smoke, according to HFD. A shelter-in-place order was in effect for much of the Garden Oaks area for about an hour that morning, before being lifted at about noon, according to HFD. “Precautionary shelter in place was due to the smoke conditions and the activity around the incident,” Houston Fire Chief Sam

Pena wrote on Twitter. “... All products of combustion (including smoke and soot, and particulate matter) can be dangerous.” According to the Harris County Appraisal District website, the building that caught fire is an 11,175-square foot metallic warehouse constructed in 1978. The property has been owned since 2018 by CMC Enterprises Inc., which is based in Spring, and is valued at $784,020. Follow Adam Zuvanich on Twitter @AZuvanich

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THE PUBLIC. The Leader • Saturday, November 27, 2021 • Page 2A

Local Legion post again serving as Blue Santa donation location By Adam Zuvanich azuvanich@theleadernews.com

Area residents who want to support the Houston Police Department’s annual holiday toy drive can again make donations at American Legion Post 560 in Garden Oaks. The local Legion post, at 3720 Alba Rd., is serving as a Blue Santa collection de-

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

A fire that caused hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to an Independence Heights home last week is under investigation, according to the Houston Fire Department. HFD said crews responded to a home in the 4200 block of Rutland Street just before 4 p.m. Nov. 16 to find smoke coming from the side of the home. Nobody was reported injured in the fire, according to HFD, which the department estimated caused about $300,000 worth of damage. Arson investigators are working to determine the cause and origin of the fire, HFD said.

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Contributed photo The Blue Santa program provides holiday toys for kids in need.

Houston Public Works is asking residents to watch what they put down the drain this holiday season in order to help prevent sewer overflow as part of the department’s “Protect Our Pipes” campaign. According to the city, fats, oils and grease poured down the sink and wipes flushed down the toilet are the main cause of sewer overflows in Houston, accounting for about 70 percent of them. A news release said the city responds to twice as many overflows during the holiday season due to an increase in grease clogs. The campaign asks Houstonians to put oils and grease into a container and cool it before tossing it in a

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THE TOPICS. The Leader • Saturday, November 27, 2021 • Page 3A

Christmas came early this Thanksgiving I ’m generally the type that likes to get through Thanksgiving before even thinking about Christmas. Holiday lights are not strung up at my house until the turkey and pies have been scarfed down, and I wait until December before doing any shopping for gifts. As for Christmas music, I don’t want to hear it in November, which is why I refrain from listening to Houston radio station 99.1 FM until the month is done. And it’s not because I’m a Grinch. Far from it. I love Christmas as much as the next guy. I’m just a big fan of Turkey Day, too, so I don’t want it to get short-changed or overshadowed. This year, though, keeping Christmas from coming too fast seems like an impossible task. The Mrs. started playing holiday tunes in the house a couple weeks ago, and more and more Christmas decorations are going up in the neighborhood. My nearly 2-yearold son has taken notice and likes to take walks around the block so he can check out the light displays and inflatable lawn ornaments,

Adam Zuvanich Editor

with Mickey and Minnie on the corner being his clear favorite. And everywhere I turn, including the pages of The Leader, I’m reminded that Christmas is around the corner. We have stories this week about upcoming appearances by the Heights Santa, holiday shopping on West 19th Street, the local American Legion post participating in a toy drive and members of the Waltrip High School band performing a concert called “Winter Blast” in mid-December at the Heights Theater. The event flyer features red and white letters along with images of holiday lights and ornaments. There’s no escaping the Christmas spirit, it seems, even though it’s still shorts-and-T-shirt weather

and the joyful holiday is still a month away. Perhaps people are more anxious than ever to see their loved ones, presents under a tree, Santa Claus and maybe even a miracle on West 34th Street. It’s been a long, stressful couple of years, of course, and it appears Christmas in 2021 can go off more normally than it did in 2020 in terms of family gatherings and holidaythemed events. I suppose I’m just as anxious for it as anyone else. Along those lines, I must consider the possibility that maybe what I’ve noticed this month is no different than any other year – except for my perception. Either way, I’m going to try to rein myself in and adhere to my longstanding policy about not letting Thanksgiving get the short end of the stick. I’m still excited for the opportunity to take some time off, stuff myself with food and drink and watch my fair share of football, even though the Texas Longhorns’ annual day-afterThanksgiving game has lost all its luster.

That’s because my beloved alma mater keeps losing … and losing … and losing ... and losing … and losing … and losing. Six times in a row is plenty, and I’m thankful the Longhorns’ lousy season is reaching its end. I’m also thankful for my family, including my beautiful better half Christine, the aforementioned toddler Pablo and our 6-month-old daughter Rachel, who is experiencing her first holiday season. I’m grateful for my job as editor of The Leader as well, along with the contributions of our talented and dedicated staff and the continued loyalty of our readers. We’re about two months into sending out a weekday newsletter to complement our printed paper and often-updated website, and it’s been enjoyable to engage with readers in a new way and watch our audience grow (don’t forget to sign up by visiting theleadernews. com or emailing us at news@ theleadernews.com). It’s hard to believe I’ve been covering the Heights, Garden Oaks and Oak Forest areas for more than three years now. Time indeed

flies when you’re having fun. Along those lines, I’m thankful for all the local residents, businesses and proud, involved community leaders who make this part of Houston so special and have allowed me to share their stories. I’ve never felt more welcome and appreciated during my journalism career. I’m grateful for the Astros as well, even though they couldn’t quite capture a second championship this fall. Three World Series appearances in five years is pretty cool, and maybe there will be another postseason run next year. Thanks, Justin Verlander, for deciding to stay in Houston. Tell Carlos Correa we appreciate him, too. I’m just as thankful for good friends, good food, good music, good times and a good dog named Astrella. Do you know what else I’m thankful for? That Christmas is coming, starting this weekend. In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving! Email azuvanich@theleadernews.com

Gullibles’ Travels On a chilly (low 60s) wet day in Dallas this past Nov. 4, hundreds of people stood on a downtown sidewalk holding signs and flags, some even brought folding chairs. They were waiting, not for a bus or a passing parade, not waiting for Godot or for some computer store to open so they could purchase the newest $1,000 toy from Apple. No, these hundreds of people were waiting for John F. Kennedy, Jr. Seriously. What did they know that the rest of the world didn’t know? Silly us. We thought John-John died after crashing his plane into the Atlantic off Martha’s Vineyard in 1999. Kennedy’s wife, Carolyn Bessette, and sister-in-law, Lauren Bessette, also died in the crash, or so we gullibles were led so easily to believe. Those truth-seekers were all members of QAnon. You’ve heard of them, slightly. QAnon is a conspiracy cult which believes that former President Donald Trump is battling a Satan-worshiping cabal that traffics children for sex. But that particular group in Dallas is considered so batty that even the rank-and-file QAnons don’t go along with their beliefs. Here’s how it goes with this gang: John Kennedy, Jr. did not die in a plane crash and is either quietly living under a pseudonym or as a financial services manager in Pittsburgh in order to fight the deep state. Those hundreds gathered in Dallas were waiting for him to walk into Dealey Plaza near an X marking the spot on Elm Street where President John F. Kennedy did not die on Friday, Nov. 22, 1963, at 12:30 p.m. No, JFK is also among us, and will reappear, alongside Jackie, to anoint Donald Trump as either the king of kings -- the Messiah, Christ himself -- or one of seven kings mentioned in the Book of Revelation. JFK then departs, leaving behind his son to serve as vice president to King Trump, or Trump the Christ. (Scores of the crowd on Elm Street wore “Trump-Kennedy 2024” T-shirts.) Both JFK and JohnJohn were Democrats, but they returned so they could support the Republican leader. Incidentally, the QAnon crowd is apparently “seeing” other dead celebrities such as Robin Williams, Dale Earnhardt and Michael Jackson. Just thought you’d like to know. According to press reports, one of the many QAnon users who promoted the Dallas event goes by “WhipLash347” on Telegram, where he or she has 262,000 subscribers. WhipLash347’s posts veered into prophecy: “John F. Kennedy Jr. is coming to Declassify EVERYTHING! JFK Jr. said he’d even take down the Government to expose those who killed his father.” Also: “Trump Reinstated as 19th President calls up a new Vice President JFK Junior.” Two items from these messages stand out. Trump was not our 19th president. That was the forgettable Rutherford B.

Lynn Ashby Columnist

Hayes, who is most definitely dead. And the notion that this strange WhipLash347 has 262,000 subscribers is scary. What, exactly, is QAnon? It doesn’t seem to be a formal organization, like the KKK or the Republican Party. There are no chapters, that we know of, nor rules or secret handshakes. We do know that in October 2017, an anonymous user put a series of posts on the message board 4chan. The user signed off as “Q.” They are major users of social media, and the amount of traffic to mainstream social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and YouTube has exploded since 2017, and indications are the numbers have gone up further during the coronavirus pandemic. Who is the leader, Q? It’s not the Q who was James Bond’s boss. Some followers say, no kidding, that it’s John Kennedy, Jr. They adore Donald Trump, who has stopped short of endorsing the conspiracy theory but has retweeted QAnon supporters and has described QAnon activists as “people who love our country.” His son, Eric Trump, posted a QAnon meme on Instagram. If the gang is mysterious, it is also gaining popularity. A Pew Research Center study in September 2020 found that nearly half of Americans had heard of QAnon -- double the number from six months before. Of those who had heard about it, a fifth had a positive view of the movement. It is easy to laugh and ridicule the QAnon followers, but they are no laughing matter. In 2018, a heavily armed QAnon supporter blocked a bridge over the Hoover Dam. Matthew Wright later pleaded guilty to a terrorism charge. Supporters of QAnon were among the crowd that stormed the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6. Several prominent followers were spotted inside the building, and others flew Q-themed banners inside and out. Jacob Chansley, the selfdescribed “QAnon Shaman” stormed the Capitol wearing a Viking hat with fur and horns. One theory is that the movement was inspired by pizzagate. Remember the story about the pizza shop in Washington where supposedly powerful Democrats held a basement filled with kidnapped children to be tortured and sexually exploited? On the afternoon of Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch of Salisbury, North Carolina, walked into the Comet Ping Pong and pointed an assault rifle at an employee. The employee fled and called police, but Welch fired his gun, striking the walls, door, and a computer. No one

was hurt. He told police he’d gone to the restaurant to “selfinvestigate” reports of the child-trafficking ring. Pizzagate was an early warning of how misinformation can lead to violence, said Joan Donovan, research director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. “The big difference between 2016 and Pizzagate and QAnon (now) isn’t the themes … it’s the scale’.” Pizzagate’s successor is QAnon. Finally, back to the QAnoners on Elm Street in Dallas. When 12:30 p.m. came, the time when President Kennedy was shot, neither he nor his son appeared. The crowd recited the Pledge of Allegiance, a journalist reported, then lingered for a while. Several vowed John-John would reappear at a Rolling Stone concert that night. Ashby conspires at ashby2@comcast.net

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Page 4A • Saturday, November 27, 2021 • The Leader

Incumbent trustee hopes to flip fortunes in runoff By Adam Zuvanich azuvanich@theleadernews.com

The results of a general election do not always predict how votes will shake out in a runoff. And voter turnout tends to decline for runoff elections, which is conducive to close races. Houston ISD trustee Anne Sung is well aware of this. When she first secured her District VII seat in a special election in 2016, she beat John Luman by a mere 37 votes in their runoff – after being more than 6,000 votes ahead of him in a four-candidate race in the general election. “Races can be close,” Sung said. “Voters should never doubt that their vote matters. They absolutely do.” Sung is trying to persuade as many supporters as she can to go to the polls for her runoff against challenger Bridget Wade, who received 609 more votes than the incumbent in the Nov. 2 general election. The runoff is Dec. 11, with early voting scheduled for Nov. 29Dec. 7, and the winner will represent a geographic area that includes Sinclair Elementary in Timbergrove. Wade hopes to build on her

momentum from Election Day, when she received 40.8 percent of the 14,984 votes cast in a four-person race that also included Dwight Jefferson and Mac Walker. Wade is a former parent-teacher organization president and private-school board member who said she was motivated to run for the HISD board to improve the functionality and reputation of both the state’s largest school district and its group of trustees, which faces a potential state takeover over what Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath has called a “failure of governance.” HISD sued Morath and the Texas Education Agency after Morath expressed his intention to replace the HISD trustees with a state-appointed board of managers in 2019. The lawsuit that will determine whether Morath has that legal authority is ongoing. “It’s kind of like the idea of the definition of insanity,” Wade said. “Why would you keep electing the same person over and over again who’s had a history ... to a point where we’re looking at a state takeover of our democratically elected system?” Wade credited Sung for her

Sung

Wade

work to ensure educational resources for special needs students and their families but said the incumbent, the other HISD trustees and also the State Board of Education tend to “talk over” their constituents in public meetings without sincerely listening to their concerns and taking their input into consideration. Wade said she wants to give community members more of a say in what happens in HISD and its campuses. She also said she has a vision for overhauling the makeup of the board by redrawing the maps for its nine districts, which have become gerrymandered over the years, or creating three-district coalitions based on similar demographics

and common characteristics and needs within those groups of districts. Wade said she also wants individual HISD campuses to have more autonomy in terms of how their resources are allocated, and she wants to provide more support for athletics and arts programs. “If we get the community back engaged in the district, the parents would feel more like they have a voice and might trust to put their kids back in public education,” Wade said. “Then your academics would improve, because the kids would be improved because the parents are engaged. It all works hand in hand.” Sung, a Harvard University graduate and former HISD

teacher who has a child in the district, defended her record on the board as well as her experience in implementing educational policy and understanding the budgeting process. She also challenged some of the claims made by Wade, saying she holds monthly meetings with parents to solicit their feedback and considers their input when making decisions. Regarding an assertion made by Wade that HISD leadership focuses too much on college readiness and not enough on preparing students for the workforce or service in the military, Sung said that is a misconception. “For the last five years, the HISD school board has been monitoring progress in career and technical education,” Sung said. “The number of students earning industry-based certification has increased 300 percent since 2017. So we’ve made a lot of progress in that area. It’s been a focus of the board.” Sung said she agrees with Wade that HISD needs to budget effectively to ensure it is making the most of its financial resources. But the incumbent said she is more well-versed than her challenger in terms of

executing such a strategy. Sung also said she has more training and experience both in education and when it comes to public policy. “As a trustee, I’ve led our board development of educational goals for our superintendent,” Sung said. “Those include early childhood education, early literacy in mathematics, college and career readiness goals and special education. Those are areas that I haven’t heard Bridget talk a lot about on the campaign trail.” The window for campaigning is getting smaller and smaller, with early voting for the runoff starting next Monday. Both Sung and Wade said it’s important to keep the runoff on the minds of voters, who might otherwise be preoccupied with holiday shopping and spending time with family. The runoff might be decided by who can spark the highest level of turnout among her supporters. “Just work hard to get people to the polls and remember how important it is, and not lose the steam that we had going into Election Day on (Nov. 2),” Wade said of her objective. “We just have to keep it fresh and keep people engaged.”

FBMS searching for new principal after Honore promotion By Adam Zuvanich azuvanich@theleadernews.com

Frank Black Middle School in Oak Forest is searching for a new principal after Rhonda Honore was promoted by Houston ISD, Honore told parents in a Nov. 19 email that was provided to The Leader. Honore has been the principal for the last four years at Frank Black, which serves students in grades 6-8 at 1575 Chantilly Ln. According to the latest school pro-

file information on the HISD website, the school had a near-perfect promotion rate to high school from 2014-18 and received a B accountability rating from the Texas Education Agency for the 2018-19 school year. “I would like to thank you for your continued support,” Honore wrote in her email. “I have thoroughly enjoyed serving you, your children and this outstanding school community and hope you know I am extremely proud of our students and all they

Honore

have accomplished.” Honore did not indicate what her next role will be

with HISD, saying only that she has “accepted a promotion here in the district.” A spokesperson for HISD, which closed its offices for the Thanksgiving holiday on the evening of Nov. 19, said she could not specify Honore’s new role before press time Sunday. Honore wrote in her email that the process for selecting a new principal is underway. HISD is holding a virtual community meeting from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 29 to outline the process

Seasons end for Eagles, Lions in TAPPS regional playoffs By Landan Kuhlmann landan@theleadernews.com

Only one high school in each division can hoist a TAPPS state championship trophy at the end of every football season. That honor will not be bestowed on any of the private school teams from the area this year. St. Thomas and Lutheran High North, which were the last two local teams remaining in the playoffs, bowed out last weekend as their runs came to a an end. St. Thomas dropped a 52-50, triple overtime slugfest with Dallas Bishop Lynch in a TAPPS Division I regional game on Saturday, while Lutheran High North lost 42-7 against Sacred Heart Hallettsville in a Division IV matchup on Friday night.

Photo from Twitter St. Thomas’ Johann Cardenas runs the ball during a TAPPS playoff game against Concordia Lutheran. The Eagles lost to Dallas Bishop Lynch last Saturday, ending their season with an 8-3 record.

St. Thomas finished the season with an 8-3 record, while Lutheran High North finished 1-7 with the playoff loss.

Quarterback Jake Wright was prolific as always for the Eagles in throwing five touchdown passes against Bishop Lynch, while three

What is on your Thanksgiving list? By Pastor Will Cover

Arise Baptist Church 803 Curtin St. Houston TX 77018 713-659-9697 • www.arisebaptistchurch.org

E

ach year my family has a tradition of going around the table and naming one or two things that we are thankful for. If you were to give a list of some of the things you are thankful for, what would be on your list?   Psalm 107:1 says, “O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good: for His mercy endureth forever.” We can give thanks because God is good. God’s goodness is demonstrated to us through his mercy. As the Psalmist points out, this mercy endures forever. God has demonstrated His goodness over and over to us. The 107th Psalm continues on to give many reasons for every believer in God to be thankful. You can be thankful because God has redeemed you. He has brought you from spiritual death and given you spiritual life. You can be thankful because God has delivered you. He will deliver you out of your trouble and put you on the right path. You can be

thankful because His dominion extends to all creation and to the circumstances of every person. You can trust that if you have experienced something, it is only because God has allowed it.   Psalm 107 includes these words, “O that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men.” This refrain is repeated four different times and is a challenge to the hearer to consider God’s goodness as demonstrated through His wonderful works. The hearer is encouraged to praise God for the goodness that has been shown to all people.   The final verse of Psalm 107 says, “Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.” My challenge to you this Thanksgiving, is to take time to observe God’s goodness. Take time to consider and to count your blessings. If you are struggling to put together your list, study Psalm 107 and see the goodness of God on display. You would do well to understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.

different Eagles’ receivers hauled in at least one scoring toss. Wright finished the season with 43 touchdown passes against one interception. However, all of that firepower was not quite enough as St. Thomas was unable to hold multiple leads. A missed field goal with just over 2 minutes left in regulation also proved key as it would have given the Eagles the lead. St. Thomas led 21-7 at halftime and 2821 entering the fourth quarter, but was unable to hold off the Friars’ late charge. Sophomore running back Johann Cardenas ran for a touchdown for the Eagles, while linebacker Zach Rocha recovered two fumbles. Cameron Price had three touchdown catches.

for parents and community stakeholders while soliciting feedback regarding the qualities they want to see in the campus’ next leader.

A meeting link will be posted to the Frank Black school website at houstonisd.org/black, according to Honore.

IN MEMORIAM

Allan James McConnell

A

llan James McConnell, 60, passed away Wednesday, November 17, 2021 in Houston, Texas. Allan was born January 11, 1961, in Heights Hospital. Allan grew up in the Heights and attended Christ The King Catholic School, Hogg Jr. High and John H. Reagan Sr. High. He lived his whole life in the Houston area. In his youth, Allan gained a love of music and carpentry through his father. Starting young, he honed his carpentry skills while working in the family business. At 17, he joined The Music Kings, a well-known Texas Czech band, as bassist, through which he met and married his future wife, Rhonda. After graduating high school, he began his own contract services company after the birth of his son. Allan is preceded in death by his father, Paul A. McConnell; and his brothers Lloyd McConnell and Emil McConnell. He is survived by his mother Agnes McConnell; his wife Rhonda Repka McConnell and son Nicholas McConnell; his sister Diane McConnell, and brother Alvin McConnell and his wife Cara; his nephew Jamie McConnell and his wife Becky; his nieces Kristie McConnell, Corrie Weichert and her husband Brandon, and Trista McConnell.

The family will receive friends Monday, November 29th, 5 pm - 7 pm, followed by a Rosary at 7 pm, at the Heights Funeral Home Chapel, 1317 Heights Blvd., Houston, Texas 77008. Funeral Mass is scheduled for Tuesday, November 30th, 10 am at St. Anne De Beaupre Catholic Church, 2810 Link Rd., Houston, Texas 77009. Graveside service will take place following the Funeral Mass at 3 pm at City Cemetary in Hallettsville, Texas.

CHURCH D I R E CTO RY

I

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 In-person services are • Worship (English) ..... 10:00 am - 11:00am information about services and events. temporarily restricted. Wednesday Bible Studies For Youth, Children and Adults............................ 6:15pm

1822 W. 18th • 713-864-1470

MANNA Sponsor

• Learning Hour........... 11:00am - 12:00pm • Worship (Spanish) .... 12:30 pm - 1:30pm

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

St. James Lutheran Church, ELCA Gethsemane Lutheran Church

First Church

Weekly Sunday Services • Bible Study: 9:15 a.m. • Morning:10:30 a.m. • Evening: 4:15 p.m.

4040 Watonga • 713-688-5227

We invite you to worship with us!

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t 8PSTIJQ &OHMJTI BN BN t -FBSOJOH )PVS BN QN t 8PSTIJQ 4QBOJTI QN QN Ad # 32285

Weekly Worship Services 9:00 a.m. Sunday School & Bible Classes 10:30 am

1700 West 43 rd at Rosslyn 713-682-4942

Sunday School ........9:15 am Sunday Worship......10:30am Wednesday Bible Study 8FTU SE 4U t )PVTUPO 5Y t Candlelight Church of Christ & Prayer Service 6:00pm Join us for Services Preschool Program • Mon. - Fri. 9-2 p.m.

Pastor – Dr. Richard Walters

www.gethsemanelutheran.org

Sunday Morning Worship 8:30 and 11:00 Sunday School for Children, Youth and Adults 9:40

FC Heights Family and Staff 201 E. 9th St. • 713-861-3102 www.fbcheights.org

in English or Spanish

Sunday Worship 10am & 5pm Sunday Bible Classes 9am Wednesday Bible Study 7pm

Ministries for our All Ages Please website at: Sund visit Home of Johnson Memorial School for Little Children www.lazybrookbaptistchurch.org for the following: Rev. Nathan Lonsdale Bledsoe, Pastor 4215 Watonga Blvd. • 713-681-9365 ◆ 713-686-8241 ◆ s t s u m c . o r g 2003 W. 43rd St. Wed Houston, TX 77092 Sunday Services: In-person @ 11 AM (Live stream during service) Bible Studies: From Homepage, click on 1822 W. 18th • 713-864-1470 Connect/Small Groups

Say a Prayer Today

Gethsemane Lutheran Church Pastor Jerry McNamara 4040 Watonga • 713-688-5227

We invite you to worship with us! Weekly Worship Services 9:00a.m. Online services can be reached through the website below at 9:00 am. www.gethsemanelutheran.org

OV

t goes with made mista err is huma this the next t must learn fro to repeat them it can be hard can sometime We sometimes we’ve done, a for years, or e addition, some our past. And them, we mus we should forg the coming da as well as our them; that is, repeatedly mu the phrase “for the only way t more divine, is the offense. S vindictive, sha it! Corrie ten prison camp s to realize that

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The Leader • Saturday, November 27, 2021 • Page 5A

District I from P. 1A

Turkey from P. 1A

35.9 percent of the vote on Nov. 2. And the incumbent trustee, who won a runoff when she first was elected in 2017, hopes her experience on the school board as well as her previous career as an HISD teacher will continue to resonate with District I voters. Santos touted her advocacy for HISD students as well as teachers and support staff as her strengths as a trustee. She said proposals she made to the board have led to $6,000 in teacher pay increases during her time as a trustee as well as a bump in pay for campus support staff from $12 per hour to $14. “People know that the heart of a teacher is just that, the heart of a teacher,” Santos said. “I’ve embraced service. My entire life I’ve been dedicated to public service. I hope that the people see where their tax dollars have gone and that I’ve honored where that goes.” Garza Lindner, a Norhill resident and parent of Travis Elementary students who works as a consultant in the energy industry, said her professional experience makes her more qualified to serve as a steward for the state’s largest school district. She also said Santos and the other eight HISD trustees have not done enough to increase teacher compensation and make HISD a more attractive destination for educators. She said HISD ranks near the bottom of school districts in the region in terms of teacher salaries, which has had a negative effect on student outcomes and caused parents like herself to send their children to other districts. HISD’s overall enrollment has decreased by several thousand in recent years, which Garza Lindner said equates to a worrisome shortfall in state funding for the district. Attracting more quality teachers, and in turn attracting and retaining more students, is a matter of taking better advantage of available resources and committing funding to those issues when putting together the HISD budget, according to Garza Lindner.

“A lot of talk and not enough to show for it,” she said. “As a parent and a community member, I’m frustrated. That’s part of what drove me here. I’ve got the skills to get it done.” Santos defended her record on the board in terms of budgeting and providing enough support for teachers while suggesting that Garza Lindner hasn’t offered concrete and feasible solutions for improving the situation. Significant pay increases for teachers and staff cannot be made all at once in a district as large and diverse as HISD, Santos said. “There are so many important things that are going on within our budget that we need to look at,” she said. “If we want them to be sustainable raises, meaning our district can handle them in the five, 15, 20 years to come, there needs to be a strategic plan to get our teachers there.” While Garza Lindner and Santos differ in their backgrounds and approaches to overseeing a school district – and were mostly adversarial toward each other in interviews with The Leader – each acknowledged that the other has a genuine desire to serve the students and communities that are served by HISD. They also agree in their support for new HISD superintendent Millard House II and that staging a runoff between Thanksgiving and Christmas figures to have a negative impact on voter turnout. So both have been trying to engage voters and remind them to return to the polls. Garza Lindner and Santos both said they have encountered voters who were under the impression their race was decided Nov. 2 and did not realize a runoff election was taking place. However the runoff shakes out, Santos said she hopes the loser will be supportive of the winner for the sake of the district and the families it serves. “If Janette wins, I will wholeheartedly support her as a trustee,” Santos said. “If I win, I hope to gain her as an alley.”

something we’ve never been able to do until now,” said Garcia, who previously served with former Mayor Lee Brown’s office and later as Harris County Sheriff. “Nobody ever predicted a pandemic, so I’m just grateful that we can do a whole meal for these families so their holidays can be as good as possible.” Beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, a line of cars stretched from the intersection of White Oak Drive and South Street – where the community center is located – back at least a mile waiting to receive their all-in-one Thanksgiving meal at the drive-through event. Officials simultaneously expressed satisfaction that turnout was what it turned out to be, while acknowledging that it is also symbolic of a greater need in the Northside area and the region as a whole as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s become the norm, but I’m happy that we’re in a position to respond as elected officials. We’re elected to make policy and pass laws – but this is part of our calling now, to make sure that we reach (communities) where they’re at,” said State Rep. Penny Morales Shaw, whose District 148 includes Northside as well as the Heights and portions of Garden Oaks and Oak Forest. “People are having hardships, and if we can bring them resources, we should relieve that hardship. We want them to see that we do care.” Among those out volunteering was Houston ISD trustee Elizabeth Santos, whose District I includes Northside. Santos grew up in the area, attending nearby Herrera and Janowski elementary schools and Burbank Middle School. “Every opportunity that the community has to come together is one that we did not have last year,” Santos said. “Normalcy is something we want to strive to get back to. Community is the No.

Photo by Landan Kuhlmann About 500 turkeys and Thanksgiving meals were given away to community members last Saturday at the Leonel Castillo Commnunity Center, 2101 South St.

1 thing here – any chance that we have to come together is going to benefit one another. So many things are up in the air right now. We don’t know what everyone else is going through – we might be fine, but not everybody else is.” Santos is also a former teacher at Northside High School and said seeing the community - which she has long been connected with benefit from giveaways like Saturday’s was a blessing. “Opportunities to give to the community despite COVID is needed right now,” she said. “COVID has made things a lot more difficult – but bringing people together, especially during the holidays, is great.” Garcia said Saturday’s giveaways were the second of two multi-location events held last

MEDICARE is PUZZLING!

Whitmire from P. 1A next year so he can focus on statewide bail bond reform, among other issues, during the next regular legislative session in 2023. Whitmire was first elected to the Texas Senate in 1983, after serving for 10 years in the Texas House of Representatives. He is seeking another four-year term in the senate, with the Democratic primary scheduled for March 2022 and the election next November. Addressing a run for mayor in November 2023, Whit-

mire said during his speech he wants to tackle homelessness in Houston -- “It’s getting worse,” he said -- as well as public safety issues and illegal dumping. He also said the city needs to resolve its ongoing dispute with the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Union over pay for firefighters. “First of all, I’ve got to get there,” he told his supporters. “What we have to tell Houstonians is, ‘Elections matter. Experience counts, and John’s going to run for mayor

week. In total, he said the plan was to give away 2,000 turkeys and complete Thanksgiving meals by the time supplies were gone. It’s just the latest in his office’s efforts, he said, to provide the easing of burdens for those in his precinct during the pandemic. Santos said there have been other food drives as well as free vaccination events for community members who need them. “In some cases, this food seems like it was the only food (those families) would have had during these days,” Garcia said. “These lines wouldn’t be as long as they are if it weren’t for the pandemic. It really just puts a lot of weight on my shoulders to do as much as we can. I’m glad we can do what we can now, and hopefully we’re able to do more in the future.”

and become mayor because he cares.’ “I’m not looking for a job,” Whitmire continued. “I’m not looking for another office to run for. I’m not looking to start a political career. I’ve got a political career. I’m doing it as a calling for uniting this community, to make this community safer, for us to work and raise our families.” Whitmire’s former sisterin-law, Kathy Whitmire, was the first woman to serve as mayor of Houston, holding office from 1982-91.

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Page 6A • Saturday, November 27, 2021 • The Leader

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The Leader • Saturday, November 27, 2021 • Page 7A

Art Valet: Spend Thanksgiving weekend with Heights Santa Mitch Cohen Art Columnist

Happy Thanksgiving! Are you ready for several weeks of shopping, holiday music, rich foods, art and Santa? That’s right, art and Santa is what I wrote, and this weekend art patrons have a chance to knock out some artful shopping and spot Santa supporting local at the same time. The Heights Santa comes out once a year on Thanksgiving weekend and makes the rounds to local small businesses. The Heights Santa enjoys drawing attention to these small businesses, which is great for those smaller budgets. The Heights Santa was kind enough to take a few minutes

to answer some questions and give me a list of places to find him this Thanksgiving weekend. Art Valet: How’s business this year, Santa? Heights Santa: “Santa bookings are up 128 percent from 2019 (not last year, but 2019)! People are really making up for lost time with family and friends due to the pandemic. My first booking this year was made in early March, and now I am getting 12-15 requests a day, many of which I can’t fill because my schedule is so full. I currently have 47 bookings. I am sure there will be at least a few more!” AV: Tell us about your small business appearances. Heights Santa: “I am appearing at some local small businesses this year to help friends who own these businesses hopefully bring in some extra customers, but also to provide an opportunity for people to come and take free

Contributed photo The Heights Santa had his hat pulled at a Winter Street Studios event in 2020. He’s making appearances around town this weekend.

pics with Santa. Going to the mall for Santa pics has become such a grind, and it’s so expensive. Plus it’s all about the up-sell, it ends up costing entirely too much money for

some not great photos. People have been through a lot the past two years. I hope to provide opportunities for photos, to encourage shopping with these incredible small busi-

nesses and to lift some spirits at the same time!” AV: You’re incredibly generous, Heights Santa, just like I knew you would be. Where can readers meet you, snap some pics and get their art on at the same time? Heights Santa: “I will be at the (locations listed below). Please stop by, let’s take some photos and do some holiday shopping with these awesome small businesses! Peace and Love from The Heights Santa!” - Hemplication Wellness Spa (noon-2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 26, 26411 Preston Ave. in Spring) - Relaxx CBD (3-5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 26, 5011 Fairmont Pkwy. in Pasadena) - Relic General Store (10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 27, 205 Aurora St. in the Heights - photos are free but by appointment, call 832-535-7060 for details) - Winter Street Studios with April Murphy & Angie Spears

(noon-3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 28, 2101 Winter St., Studios B3 and C6 in Sawyer Yards) - Whimsy Artisan Boutique 1:30-3:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12, 1802 Yale St. in the Heights) The Heights Santa is on Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/heightssanta/, for bookings (it’s never to early for 2022). Email HeightsSanta@ gmail.com. Please avert young unsuspecting eyes from this paragraph, because I’m about to lay down a Santa secret: Behind the real white, full beard and long hair is artist and Heights resident Steve Sellers, also on Instagram at https:// www.instagram.com/ticjeweler. 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.

ClayHouston hosting Heights studio tours Dec. 5 By Landan Kuhlmann landan@theleadernews.com

Area residents wanting to get an up-close-and-personal look at how clay sculptures are created will have the chance to do so during a studio tour event in the Heights early next month. There also will be an opportunity to help feed the hungry. ClayHouston is hosting its fifth annual Bayou City Clay Crawl from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 5. It’s a free event the organization says will provide the public with a rare opportunity to tour ceramics studios

and to discover pieces created by ClayHouston member artists. Empty Bowls Houston, a grassroots effort by artists and craftspeople to feed the hungry, will have a table set up at the Nosami studio, 739 E. 7th 1/2 St., where visitors can purchase handmade bowls for a donation of at least $25. All of the bowls sales will go to the Houston Food Bank. A news release from ClayHouston said this year’s event is Heights-centric with bookends in East Downtown and Independence Heights, featuring more than 40 artists

participating in seven studios offering pieces ranging from traditional pottery to largescale sculptures as well as installations and demonstrations. Visitors can start at any location. The studios participating are: - Third Coast Clay – 8519 N. Main St. - Bennett Fine Art Studio – 1805 Harvard St. - Yu Cha Pak’s Studio – 1322 Harvard St. - Tracye Wear Studio - 1139 Waverly St. - Nosami - 739 E 7th 1/2 St. - Damon Thomas Art Stu-

dio - 1112 Arlington St. - PotClub Studio - 3308 Garrow St. During the tour, participants

will get a chance to talk to the artists, see demonstrations of how their pieces are created and purchase select items.

For more information on the event, visit clayhouston. org/BCCC.

Review: Taqueria Durango serves up tasty, cheap breakfast tacos Stefan Modrich

A humble shack in the parking lot of a Fiesta Mart where the Loop 610 North frontage road meets North Shepherd Drive serves up some of the best tacos I’ve ever had in our fair city. Taqueria Durango, which greets visitors with the warm glow of its bright yellow sign that evokes a Houston sunrise, is the everyman’s taco. And that’s not meant in a pejorative sense whatsoever. Construction workers gather here at dawn and at lunchtime, some of them eating on the beds of their trucks or the hoods of their cars or the makeshift counter designed for standing and eating quickly. “Are you in a hurry?” the woman behind the counter said when I asked her

what aguas frescas ($3 for a 24-ounce cup, with free refills) she was serving. She had already apologized for the 10 minutes I had waited as my flour tortillas were being made from scratch, and I insisted I was in no rush. And few places are worth those extra 10-15 minutes more than Taqueria Durango. The bold, spicy chipotle adobo sauce that came with my bistec (steak), potato and egg, and egg and chorizo tacos was unlike anything I’ve ever tried in such a barebones setting. So it was both a matter of self-preservation as much as it was for my own enjoyment that I ordered the fresh pineapple juice. A good barometer for the authenticity of any aguas frescas, from horchata to tamarindo, is the presence of chunks of fresh fruit (and very little, if any, added sugar.) The refreshing juice was a pleasant escape for my taste buds, which had been ensor-

Photo by Stefan Modrich From left to right are the steak, egg and chorizo, and potato and egg tacos from Taqueria Durango.

celled by the adobo sauce. But the sweet and spicy dynamic greatly enhanced the soft, buttery tortillas and the fluffy scrambled eggs, hearty potatoes, savory chorizo and tender steak. For me, Taqueria Durango serves as a reminder that some of the places which we are tempted to call “hidden gems” are often hiding in plain sight.

Taqueria Durango Address: 2807 N. Shepherd Drive Dining Options: Dine-in, takeout Hours: 6 a.m.-4 p.m. MondaySaturday Entree prices: $2-$12 Kid-friendly: Yes Senior discount: No Alcohol: No Healthy options: None Star of the show: Bistec taco Rating: 5 out of 5 bites

Photo by Stefan Modrich Taqueria Durango, pictured here, earned our stamp as a hidden gem.

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A much-anticipated grand opening of an upscale Italian restaurant in the Heights has been scheduled for this week. Trattoria Sofia, 911 W. 11th St., was set for its grand opening from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday. The project of Berg Hospitality Group serves rustic Italian dishes like pulpo arrosto, wood fire-roasted octopus and Bucatini served with a Sicilian pesto. Trattoria Sofia’s hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. SundayTuesday and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. For more information, email eat@trattoriasofia. com. New pub planned for North Shepherd Drive The space that previously

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housed Tres Amigos and Shepherd Draught House has a new tenant. The Upside Pub, 3402 N. Shepherd Drive, is a project of beer aficionado Paige Reilly, according to a filing with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC).

Photo from Facebook Pips Heights, a nutrition club selling teas and shakes at 508 W. 19th St., is set to open this fall.

New tea shop bound for 19th Street A new storefront selling tea and shakes is bound for the heart of the Heights. Pips Heights, 508 W. 19th St., is set to open this fall.

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The Leader • Saturday, November 27, 2021 • Page 8A

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LEADER LISTING The Leader • Saturday, November 27, 2021 • Page 1B

High-end senior living coming to Shady Acres By Adam Zuvanich azuvanich@theleadernews.com

Carolyn Gowan grew up in the Heights and also raised her family in the area before she and her husband, Damon Gowan, relocated to Galveston to retire. Now 84 years old and a widow, Carolyn Gowan said she’s planning a return to the neighborhood so she can be closer to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in the Houston area. She also wants to live in luxury, so she put down a deposit earlier this year for a seventh-story apartment with a downtown view at The Watermark at HousGowan ton Heights, a senior living community that’s under construction at 1245 W. 18th St. When the building opens next year and Gowan moves in, she’ll have access to five on-site restaurants, a beauty salon and spa, heated outdoor swimming pool, exercise facilities, courtyard with a garden, art gallery, movie room and library, among other amenities. “We joked about it because Mother has been on many Viking ocean cruises … and it seemed like it was going to be a Viking Cruise, just on land,” said her daughter, Denise Gowan. “All the amenities really seemed upscale and very nice.” Carolyn Gowan is among the 55-and-older residents of Greater Houston who has signed up to live at The Watermark at Houston Heights, a seven-story, 220-unit community that’s expected to open in the first quarter of 2022 in Shady Acres. The project is the first joint venture between Houston-based developer Hines and Watermark Communities, which is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona, and offers independent living, assisted living and memory care for seniors. Meg Meliet, the director of senior living and healthcare for Hines, described the property as more of a luxury resort than a retirement community. Along with health and wellness services and the aforementioned amenities, the community will offer a full bar, yoga and Pilates studios, a virtual reality lounge, golf simulator, putting green and topfloor terrace deck that faces Downtown Houston to the south. Residents will have the option to age in place, meaning they can shift from independent living to assisted living while staying in the same unit. The memory care wing and most of the amenities will be located on the second floor, with parking underneath the building on the ground

Photo by Adam Zuvanich The Watermark at Houston Heights, a seven-story, 220-unit senior living community at 1245 W. 18th St., is under construction and expected to open early next year.

level. To get to the front entrance on the second level, there are two driveway ramps from 18th Street that Meliet said provide a “grand sense of arrival.” “We’re really building this for the next generation of seniors, so we did not build this like a traditional senior living community,” Meliet said. “We want it to feel like a highend resort, a luxury multifamily project, and hopefully you feel that when you walk through.” Meliet and two representatives for Watermark – executive director Raymond Baylor II and sales director John Parker – declined to divulge the cost of the project or say how many of the units have been reserved at this point. A sales center for the property opened in the late spring at 1527 W. 18th St., and appointments can be made by calling 281-817-0097. Parker said the monthly rental rate for apartments at The Watermark at Houston Heights ranges from $2,695 for a studio space to $7,545 for a 1,500-square foot unit. There also is a one-time membership fee, the amount of which was not disclosed in promotional materials provided to The Leader. The 1.9-acre property is valued at more than $28 million, according to the Harris County Appraisal District. Parker said meals are included in the monthly cost, much like on a cruise, and $500 from each monthly

Artist’s rendering contributed by Watermark The Watermark at Houston Heights will feature a terrace with a downtown view.

payment is reserved for a flexiblespending account that can be used on amenities and services, such as Watermark University, a program in which residents can learn skills like computer literacy and knitting. “It’s all about choices,” Parker said. Carolyn Gowan as well as Jimmy and Mary Davenport, an elderly couple who plans to move to The Watermark at Houston Heights from a high-rise apartment near the intersection of Kirby Drive and Westheimer Road, said the property offers good value for its price and is comparable to other senior living communities they have considered. They also said they are looking forward to taking advantage of not only the amenities on the property,

but also the surrounding area. There are several restaurants and bars within walking distance of The Watermark at Houston Heights, along with shopping opportunities a short drive away. “The Heights is growing. You can drive around and see construction everywhere,” Jimmy Davenport said. “It’s very active and a fun area to go and visit.” Gina Magana, a resident of the nearby Clark Pines neighborhood, said it seems odd to have a senior living community in an immediate area otherwise known for its nightlife. There are multiple bars within a few blocks of The Watermark at Houston Heights, some of which have live music on the weekends. “I just think it’s weird that it’s an

elderly residence there,” she said. “It doesn’t seem to be a good fit.” Gowan and the Davenports said they are not concerned about nearby noise and traffic. Meliet said the property was targeted because it’s in a gentrifying area with a mix of aging residents who want to stay in the Heights area along with young professionals and families whose parents want to be close to them. Baylor said The Watermark at Houston Heights has been met with positive feedback from the community, in part because it’s “something they’ve never seen before” in terms of aesthetics and amenities. He also said Watermark allows residents to build their own unique culture at its properties, allowing them to be as formal or casual as they’d like. Meliet said she expects the senior living community to be a leading part of the transformation of the immediate area during the next few years. “This community is being developed because of the partnership between Hines and Watermark and has not used any of the data that you (typically) use when we develop these communities,” Baylor said. “The data gets you what’s already available. … They chose the idea of utilizing theory. The theory is saying, ‘What can we do that no one else has done?’ You work off of theory, and that’s where you get innovation.”

Market Update

October home sales dip across local neighborhoods By Landan Kuhlmann landan@theleadernews.com

For much of this year, local neighborhoods have experienced more booms than downturns in terms of yearover-year, monthly home sales. That was not the case last month, however, with October seeing sales drop across nearly the entire area, according to the most recent data from the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR). According to HAR data, five of the six zip codes served by The Leader experienced some sort of dip in sales volume in October. Only the Washington Heights/Rice Military zip code (77007) experienced a year-over-year increase, with every other area seeing sales dip by at least 23 percent, according to HAR data. Pricing-wise, many areas saw year-over-year increases, with just one (77009) seeing year-over-year prices drop. 77018 The zip code encompassing Garden Oaks, Oak Forest, Shepherd Park Plaza and the Central Northwest area was one of five area zip codes to see a year-over-year monthly sales volume drop in October. There were 58 sales in these neighborhoods last month, a 23.7 percent dip compared to the previous October. However, the area has still seen agents close on 793 sales

through the end of the month, through the end of the month. which is 24.1 percent ahead Average home buyers in of last year’s sales pace. this zip code paid $539,749 In regards to pricing, this – a 5.2 percent year-overwas one of two local zip year decrease – in October, codes to see a year-overwhile median price ended year dip in both average and the month down more than median home price. The av8 percent year-over-year to erage buyer paid 8 percent $461,500. 77007 less ($524,290) compared to last year, while median price The Washington/Rice Miliwas down 11.3 percent to tary zip code was the only $422,500. one to see a year-over-year 77092 jump in sales volume, with Just to the west, the zip the 89 homes sold last month code including the western representing a 61.8 percent Photo from HAR website portion of Central Northwest Pictured is an available home in the Washington Heights/Rice Military area in zip code 77007, which was increase over the previous as well as Langwood and the only local zip code to see a year-over-year sales volume increase in October amidst an area-wide October. Year-to-date, the Kempwood was the same as sales dip. area has seen 896 homes sold its neighbor. Homes sales in through the end of October, a this zip code dropped 26.9 area, which includes Greater rough month in quite some downturn. Agents closed on 34.5 percent increase over the percent year-over year, with Inwood and Acres Homes, time for the zip code encom- 53 homes in the area last 2020 rate. agents closing on 19 homes also saw agents have a rough passing the Greater Heights. month, a 24.3 percent deOn a pricing front, the avas opposed to 26 sales in Oc- go of things. Home sales Year-over-year home sales crease from October 2020. erage home price here rose tober 2020. Much like the rest dropped 35 percent – the larg- were down 26.9 percent with Just like many zip codes 5.3 percent to $587,960, while of the area, however, this zip est local dip – after seeing 13 79 homes sold last month, in the area, however, these median home price spiked code is still experiencing a sales close in the area com- compared to the 108 sold neighborhoods are still seeing 12.5 percent year-over-year good year overall as the 277 pared to 20 sales in October during October 2020. In spite a year-to-date sales volume to $500,000. homes sold so far is 31.9 per- 2020. However, this zip code of the year-over-year dip, the that is 22.8 percent ahead of cent more than the 210 sold is still 29.1 percent ahead of 1,106 homes sold through the last year’s pace with 570 sales through the same time frame last year’s sales pace, having end of October is 23.4 perseen 230 homes come off the cent ahead of last year’s pace in 2020. through the same time period. On the pricing side, aver- market so far this year. Pricing-wise, the average Year-over-year prices age price spiked 18.7 percent year-over year, with the were a bit of a mixed bag home buyer paid 8.7 peraverage home buyer paying last month, with average cent more year-over-year Specializing in First Time Home $371,823 last month. Mean- price rising 2.3 percent up ($634,624) in this zip code, Buyer’s-Move Up Buyers-New Construction while, the median price ended to $267,495, while median while the median price was up the month at $375,000 – a 31 home price dropped 4.1 per- 1.5 percent to $520,000. Serving Houston Buyers since 1998 percent increase that repre- cent year-over-year down to 77009 “Integrity, Experience and Results” The zip code which insented the biggest local year- $263,750. Call for a free consultation 77008 cludes Woodland Heights and over-year spike. 713-240-1893 77091 Much like its neighborhood Northside Village, among othhrbailey@cbunited.com The northern edge of the counterpart, it was the first ers, also saw a dramatic sales har.com/hrbailey H.R. BAILEY

H.R. BAILEY


Page 2B • Saturday, November 27, 2021 • The Leader

Real Estate Roundup

Local agents named ‘rising stars’ in industry By Landan Kuhlmann landan@theleadernews.com

Agents from two local real estate offices were recognized for their accomplishments earlier this month as rising young stars in the industry by the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR). Kasia McCormick with Compass Real Estate (600 N. Shepherd Dr.) and Jessica Burton of IndyQuest Properties (2902 N. Shepherd Dr.) were named to HAR’s Young Professionals Network’s “20 Under-40 Rising Stars in Real Estate” list during a virtual

ceremony on Nov. 3. According to a news release from HAR, the finalists and eventual winners were evaluated on the basis of “excellence in sales, leadership and community service.” McCormick, whose primary service areas include the Heights, Oak Forest and Garden Oaks among other inner-loop neighborhoods, has a history of activism and community engagement, having served in the Peace Corps in Senegal, according to HAR. She is rated at 4.99 out of 5 stars on HAR.com, and does volunteer work in numerous

Kasia McCormick

Jessica Burton

roles in the Heights community along with support for All Saints Catholic Church. Burton is a top producer for

IndyQuest, according to the news release, and is rated at 4.98 out of 5 stars on HAR. com. In her free time, the news

release said Burton also serves the community by volunteering for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the Junior League and Houston Trial Lawyers Association, among other organizations. “These 20 honorees are 40-year-old and younger real estate professionals whose activities and philosophies reflect outstanding core values not only within the industry, but as members and stewards of their community,” HAR Chairman Richard Miranda said. “We could not be prouder of their accomplishments and all that they represent.”

Northside property has space available According to a marketing brochure by S&P Interests on Nov. 3, a soon-to-be remodeled property at 7214 Airline Dr. in the Northside/Northline area has up to 20,000 square feet available for leasing. There are also 4 acres available for ground leasing on an adjacent lot, according to the brochure. For more information, those interested in leasing can reach out to Josh Sbesta of S&P Interests at 713-298-1341 or josh@spinterests.com.

REALTOR SHOWCASE

Silva, Happen Houston still serving amidst pandemic By Landan Kuhlmann landan@theleadernews.com

Michael Silva has always strived to put clients at the forefront of any transaction since taking a leap of faith into the real estate world more than a decade ago. And that has not changed to this day, as he and his team at Happen Houston continue to provide top-notch service to potential buyers and sellers. Silva is the founder of Happen Houston, a boutique brand built on the belief that the best real estate service is strategic in nature and should provide a lifetime of value. His HAR bio says that he and his team take a data-driven approach to real estate, providing custom strategies and ongoing guidance for each of their clients, while integrating construction and renovation into their approach. That approach has been tested over the last couple of years since the beginning of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, through it all, Silva said they have found ways to stay true to that approach in guiding clients through uncertain waters. “Simply put, we’ve found a way to transform every weakness we had or obstacle we faced into a strength or opportunity,” he said. “We have all around become better people, better agents, and a better company.” Now one of Houston Business Journal’s top 5 agents in the city by volume and transactions, he’s working every day to help Houston residents adjust to an ever-evolving world amidst COVID-19 the only way he knows how, saying he extends his sincerest condolences to anyone that has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, however, he said the desire for homes and real estate has not diminished – in fact, he

Michael Silva and Ashli Garcia said it’s been quite the opposite. “We’ve found ways, through leveraging technology, to serve (both) in and out-of-state clients, which we are seeing now more than ever,” he said. Advisor Ashli Garcia echoed the sentiment. She said Happen Houston is seeing a consensus in their hot spots – which include inner Beltway neighborhoods such as Garden Oaks, Oak Forest, the Heights, Shepherd Park Plaza and more – that the feeling of “home,”

or the sense that space is more than just a place to sleep, is more prominent than ever before. “A lot of buyers are now considering the option of building to create that space, whereas they maybe weren’t before,” she said. However, she said that process can be tricky to navigate as there is much room for error in the building process. The key, she said, is to align with the right people for your buying or selling needs. And at Happen Houston, Garcia said that is exactly what they aim to be. She said it has been about more than just supervising a transaction from the start, and that Silva and his team know the purchase or sale of a home is often one of the most significant transactions. Thus, knowing at the end of it that they have done right by them in the long run is what matters. She also said that buyers and sellers should be asking questions about an agent’s efficiency, testimonials to their service and other important questions – and Silva and Happen Houston are ready and waiting to present their proof of always putting the client first. “Anyone can babysit the steps of a transaction, but to know that you have set your client up for financial success takes an extreme level of detail and granular market knowledge so that they can make the right decisions for them and their family,” Garcia said. “At the end of the day, our job is to instill confidence in the client and empower them to make the right decisions throughout the life of the transaction.” To see what Silva and his team at Happen Houston can do for your needs, give them a call at 713-391-8637 or visit their website at happenhouston.com. You can also stop by their local office at 720 W. 25th St. in the Heights or email Silva at michael@happenhouston. com.

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The Leader • Saturday, November 27, 2021 • Page 3B

Shop sensibly for Waltrip jazz ensembles to holiday pet gifts perform at Heights Theater for gifts for your pets that they will appreciate and that you won’t find yourself donating or tossing in the trash after a few short months. Dear Tabby, We would like to give our pets Christmas gifts this year (full disclosure: this is all my children’s idea). Without buying them a bunch of stuff that they don’t need, can you give us some ideas of gifts for our pets that won’t break the bank but that also won’t clutter our home? Starting Our Shopping in Shepherd Park Plaza Dear Starting Our Shopping, A recent survey of pet owners found a whopping 95 percent of them buy holiday gifts for their pets! So, you won’t be the only one stopping by your local pet supply shops to pick out just the perfect gift for your precious pets. Most of our beloved, spoiled rotten fourlegged family members want for nothing when it comes to basic creature comforts, but it can be very fun to carefully choose and buy them something special--especially for your kids. Here are some ideas

Consumables You definitely can’t go wrong with gifting your pets with treats or special pet food. Not only do animals love all things edible, but by purchasing a consumable, you won’t find yourself having to store this gift. A word of warning, though: If you purchase something edible for your pets, don’t wrap it and leave it under your tree for long. As you know, dogs and cats have curiously strong sniffers, so it doesn’t take much for them to catch a whiff of something under the tree and help themselves to it (and sometimes the wrapping and ribbons that accompany it), and this can cause health issues. Your best bet is to hide the edible gifts somewhere inaccessible to the pets until it’s time to give them their gifts. Practical gifts Is Rover’s bed looking pretty gross and dingy? Has Fluffy’s cat tree seen better days? Use the holidays as a good excuse to upgrade your

pets’ household furniture and pet supplies. Trust me, your pets will love a new place to sleep or a new cat tree to tear into and it’s a great way to get rid of pet items that are past their prime in your home, which in turn helps your home to feel fresher and cleaner for the holidays.

By Landan Kuhlmann landan@theleadernews.com

Student musicians from Waltrip High School are set for a performance at one of the area’s most prominent concert venues next month. The Waltrip High School

Roaring Ram Band’s jazz ensembles will take the stage at the Heights Theater, 339 W. 19th St., at 8 p.m. Dec. 14 for the group’s Winter Blast concert. Performances will include both the Jazz Ensemble 1 and Jazz Ensemble 2 groups from Waltrip.

Student tickets are $5, while general admission tickets are $15. There are also VIP tables of four available at $100 apiece. For more information, follow the Waltrip Roaring Ram Band on Twitter @waltripramband.

Donate to those less fortunate Consider enlisting your children’s help in researching and finding a charity that could benefit from a donation from your family in lieu of buying your pets more stuff. There are tons of animal shelters and rescues that can always use monetary support, but also charities that help humans who need assistance caring for their own pets. Part of the fun of the holidays is finding that perfect gift for those you love the most. Our pets love to be loved, and choosing a small token for your pets to show you care goes a long way toward modeling stewardship and selflessness for your children. Happiest of holidays to you and your pets! Do you have a question for Tabby? Email her at deartabby questions@gmail.com.

Pet of the Week Meet Felisity Felisity is an 8-month-old Tuxedo girl who’s hilarious to watch! In true “Tuxie” form, Felisity is spunky, affectionate and very loyal to her humans. She’s quite fearless and is always looking to conquer every cat tree, no matter how tall! What better way to get in the holiday spirit than to give a sweet kitten her forever home? To learn more, go to www. animaljusticeleague.org.

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Page 4B • Saturday, November 27, 2021 • The Leader

Do your holiday shopping on 19th Street By Stefan Modrich smodrich@mcelvypartners.com

I have always aspired to be among those of you who get your Christmas shopping done early. And I’m not sure about you, but except for those with children who are still receiving gifts from “Santa,” the most compelling and interesting aspect of giving and receiving gifts in my family has always been sharing the story about how we found something special we thought would resonate with them. I will forewarn any of my immediate family that if they happen to read this there will be some spoilers ahead of what awaits them in their Christmas stockings. This year, I’ll have some very interesting stories to tell about my recent trip to West 19th Street, which was fully decked out with lights and holiday decorations on the night of Nov. 18, where I saw others walking throughout the Heights’ most famous shopping district between Yale Street and North Shepherd Drive. I started by grabbing a warm brew from Boomtown Coffee to accompany me on my stroll and then crossed over to the other side of the street to check out Big Blue Whale, a toy store with a wide array of toys and games for all ages. There, you’ll find vintage toys like wiffle ball bats and modern ones like Hexbug nano Land, where kids can build colorful tracks and obstacle courses to race their robotic “nano bugs.” There are also classics like Harry Potter and Star Wars lego sets and

GOOFy GETTING

Stefan Modrich

in the

GREATER HEIGHTS See related video at

theleadernews.com glow-in-the-dark bracelets and charm sets. Next door to Big Blue Whale is Vinal Edge Records, which has been selling interesting and eclectic music in a variety of formats since 1985. I knew I could get lost in the jazz and R&B sections, but came away with some interesting finds in the world music section, keeping in mind previous international trips and multicultural experiences my family has had. I found it can be easy to lose yourself in shops like AG Antiques, where I found some old-school postcards and football cards for my brother, who is a Green Bay Packers superfan. I marveled at some of the old books, coffee table accent pieces and, of course, pristinely preserved newspapers from decades ago of the Houston Post and Houston Chronicle. A few doors down, I stumbled into Jubilee, a vibrant emporium of clothing and home goods, where I found a shirt with a Texas monarch butterfly for my mom and an Austin-themed cookbook for my significant other. So whether you’re shop-

ping for others or want to treat yourself, I’m sure I’ll be seeing some of you back out on 19th Street again during the holidays. As always, I welcome your recommendations for locallyowned stores and restaurants across the Greater Heights, whether they are sent to smodrich@mcelvypartners.com or @StefanJModrich on Twitter. Jubilee, 325 W. 19th St., is a vibrant emporium of clothing and home goods.

Photo by Stefan Modrich

Photo by Stefan Modrich Vinal Edge Records, 239 W. 19th St., has been selling interesting and eclectic music in a variety of formats since 1985.

Woodland Park scavenger hunt raises funds for bayou awareness By Landan Kuhlmann landan@theleadernews.com

A first-time scavenger hunt for charity hosted at a local neighborhood park earlier this month was a success in the eyes of event organizers. The Bayou Preservation Association’s Bayou City Detective Agency (BCDA) scavenger hunt from Nov. 12-14 at Woodland Park raised $7,700 for bayou project funding and

helped raised awareness of the city’s bayous, according to a news release from the organization. “We were very happy with the enthusiastic response to this unique event, which was conceived from a desire to engage people in an entirely new way,” said Branwen Ranck, Bayou Preservation Association’s director of philanthropy and engagement. “... It was a beautiful weekend to celebrate

one of our lesser-known waterways, located in the Woodland Heights area not far from downtown.” The news release said 81 people, including members of church groups and families with young children, bought tickets to the event, during which eight bayourelated clues were hidden in books placed at “Clue Stops” throughout the park and along the bayou for attendees of

all ages to utilize in solving a mystery phrase. According to the release, 71 people wound up solving the phrase. “We hope the take-home

message of this year’s event is that bayous both literally and metaphorically connect us all — to each other, to nature and to ourselves,” Ranck said.

For more information on the Bayou Preservation Association and its mission, visit bayoupreservation.org.

Contributed photo Pictured is Clue Stop No. 7 on a recent scavenger hunt at Woodland Park, which entailed attendees deciphering eight total clues in order to solve a mystery phrase. The event was for charity.

Contributed photo Young detectives try to figure out a clue during a scavenger hunt hosted by the Bayou Preservation Association at Woodland Park, which took place Nov. 12-14.

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