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Fall 2014

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Volume 19

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Number 3

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Quarterly newsletter published for city of Houston employees

www.citysavvy.org

A life in aviation took off at

Intercontinental Photo courtesy David Robertson

By Elise Rambaud Marrion

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ew people get to glimpse their career 45 years into the future, but David “Hoss” Robertson can pinpoint the exact day that inspired his calling to aviation. Robertson, who serves as airport operations airside coordinator at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, was almost 6 years old when his family attended the grand opening of Intercontinental Airport on June 1, 1969. In this the 45th anniversary of IAH’s opening, Robertson still remembers almost every detail. It was a historic moment for Houstonians and millions of travelers worldwide. Dubbed “the world’s first supersonic jet airport,” when it opened, IAH has grown to be a global gateway with nonstop flights to 122 destinations in the U.S. and nearly 70 international destinations. In observance of the anniversary, the Houston Airport System hosted a birthday celebration for Bush Intercontinental earlier this year. It reminded Robertson of opening day festivities. He recalled the grand opening in vivid detail: the ceremonies were held about a week before the first official flight into IAH, so guests got an exclusive look at the terminals, observation decks, garages and ramps. The crowd saw civilian and military aircraft up close, the Blue Angels flew above, and Robertson was hooked. The attraction is still there 45 years later. About 2,000 people of all ages attended the anniversary event at the United Airlines hangar. Guests got a peek from behind the cockpit of numerous aircraft, boarded a United Airlines Dreamliner, saw an airport fire engine demonstration and enjoyed a range of entertainment. They also perused photo displays of 45 years of IAH history and dined on barbeque provided by airport restaurants. See IAH on Page 11

Photos courtesy of IAH

Around the City . . . . . . Page 2 Day on the Job . . . . . . . . Page 6 Inside Houston . . . . . . Page 7 Heritage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 8

Inside

Hats Off . . . . . . . . . Page 12

Packing a punch

Founders resurrected

Cornelius “Da Beast” White is a big hit with SWD and in the ring.

Once left for dead, Houston’s first cemetery has been brought back to life.

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02 AROUND THE CITY

Photos by David Smith

Green app is good for environment and your wallet By Elise Rambaud Marrion

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hat if social games such as Candy Crush Saga or Words with Friends actually made the world a better place to live? What if these games were less addictive and more productive? What if our smart phones and tablets saved us money and protected the environment? Many people already use mobile apps to make better choices including syncing workouts to social media and logging caloric intake. The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability recognized that mobile technology could also inspire sustainable living among Houstonians and launched the free Green Houston app back on Earth Day. “Using the Green Houston app is a great way for residents and employees to take individual actions to be green and save money,” said Laura Spanjian, director of Sustainability. Available for iPhone and Android, the Green Houston app was developed by Joulebug with $10,000 in private sponsorships. Houston joins Raleigh, N.C., Austin

and host of universities that have already released sustainability social apps. Some people play to interact socially, said Lisa Lin, sustainability manager. Some like to compete, and meanwhile, they can also see how sustainable habits save them money. Sure, games are good and fun, but ultimately, the Green Houston app is an educational tool. Videos and links to green city programs such as curbside recycling and the bike share program are programmed into the app. Green Houston uses a series of “achievements” for users to “buzz” each time they complete an action. For example, the shower sprinter achievement urges users to shower for five minutes or less. Each minute you shave off your shower saves you $8, 913 gallons or 18 bathtubs of water and 47 kilograms of carbon dioxide annually. A few other achievements include: Barrel of Monkeys – watering your

lawn using rainwater collected in a rain barrel Blazing Saddles – riding your bike to work Bear Bum – Using toilet paper made from recycled paper Down Home Eats – buying locally grown produce Pack-a-Sack – packing your lunch in a reusable container Little Red Cartridge – refilling printer ink cartridges Smog Log – check your car’s emissions Kill Bill – switch to online billing to save paper Buzzes earn pins, and pins with similar themes earn badges. They all count toward your total points. As of now, users compete for bragging rights and the satisfaction of reducing their carbon footprint, but other cities have offered prizes and discounts. “There are a lot of pins for actions people

already do all the time like switching off the lights,” Lin said. “But others take you out of your comfort zone and make you aware of sustainable actions you would have never thought of. Skipping the straw in your cup at a restaurant reduces the demand on one-time use products. It helps remind us to stop being a ‘throw-away’ culture.” As Green Houston continues to enlarge its social network, Lin said that using the app could be a fun competitive activity among employees and departments. Similar to Instagram and Facebook, users can share and like photos of their sustainable actions. “The app relies on user content, so the more people who use it, the more fun it will be,” Lin said. “One day I was talking about the app at the City Hall farmer’s market, and this guy, who doesn’t work for the city, asked me for more information about the app to share with his colleagues. People are interested, and it’s growing.”

Photos by Elise Marrion

311 shadows PWE crews to improve customer service By Elise Rambaud Marrion

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he calls and emails could be about anything: traffic signals, broken water lines, sewers, garbage, or even dead animals. 311 employees are often the first line of customer service when something goes wrong in the city, so they have to be prepared for a variety of questions. Callers keep 311 agents on their toes; the office can receive up to about 30,000 calls in a single month. But a revamped training program has them out in the field. Earlier this year, 311 employees got away from their offices and got out on the scene to get a close view of the problems Houstonians report every day. Starting

Fall 2014

with the Public Works and Engineering Department, 311 employees have watched sewer repairs and gushing water lines. “Years ago, we would send new employees out into the field so they would better understand the calls they receive,” said Shantel Doyle, customer service section chief. “We saw the benefit of implementing that program again, and we have been sending three employees out every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday out with various PWE crews. We plan to extend the training to other departments as we complete this first round with all 75 customer service employees.”

Elsa Trevio said she helps callers better now that she has witnessed a PWE crew repair a broken water line. “I had to rely on the caller’s description of a problem, and I couldn’t always picture what they were saying.” Trevino said. “For example, a caller would report a ‘geyser’ out in the street, and I thought they must be exaggerating. Now that I have seen it happen, I can give a more precise description when I make my service request reports.” The field training exercises have been eye-opening, said Sonya Melton. “It’s one thing to sit at a desk, take a

call, and then file a report, but when you are on the other side of it, you can actually see what they are doing out in the field,” Melton said. “We have customers call in and expect things to be fixed right away, but they don’t understand the severity and of the issue and complexity of repairs.” She saw a PWE crew resolve a sewage backup. It wasn’t a pretty sight or smell, but Melton said she is eager to learn more. “I enjoyed it; I wish I could go on a field trip once a week,” Melton said. “I want to go to Municipal Courts, I want to see them mark streets, fill potholes, repair a traffic light; I want to see it all.”


AROUND THE CITY

Trying to keep pace with the building boom

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By David Smith

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onstruction in Houston is off the charts. The city is among the most active places in the country for building projects — commercial, residential, new construction, renovations, remodels, you name it. But every significant construction project requires a city official to ensure it’s up to code. This presents an urgent issue for the city: bring in additional qualified plans examiners and building inspectors to meet the increased pace of construction or fall behind the demand and cope with contractors angered by delays. Perhaps it was industry humor or maybe just an unintended pun when Permitting Center Executive Director Mark McAvoy said, “It’s incredible, our demand is going through the roof.” Either way, the Permitting Center is taking action to keep up. McAvoy said the Permitting Center is in the midst of a recruitment drive he hopes will lure 50 additional building inspectors and 15 plans examiners. “Each month we’ve seen seemingly a historic high in construction plans, which is good for Houston, but it stresses our ability to keep up,” McAvoy said. Indeed, the Center is reviewing 43 percent more plans since 2011, he said, while permits issued are up 11 percent over the same time.

The Permitting Center has hosted job fairs that netted some new hires. Every little bit helps. “I would call it mildly successful, McAvoy said of one of the fairs. “But we still need to hire more people.” Building inspector Robert Moore said he couldn’t agree more. He’s out in the field daily and hasn’t seen anything like it in his 11 years with the city. Inspectors hustle to visit as many sites as possible, he said, but the boom in construction is too much for the current personnel. “The people we have are excellent, quality inspectors,” Moore said. “The amount of construction is overwhelming. We’re in such a need for inspectors in every department.” McAvoy said building inspectors usually conduct 20 to 25 inspections a day. Some of the inspections may take place on a single job site, however. Still, it makes for a full day and the workload can exceed that busy pace. Moore said one day he had 36 scheduled inspections, all while training a new inspector. “We’re just covered up,” Moore said. The Permitting Center promotes the job fairs on its webpage and City of Houston website. It also posts notices on the City of Houston Twitter feed and distributes fliers. McAvoy said the Permitting Center also has taken out ad space in EmploymentGuide.

Houston’s construction boom has building inspectors like Robert Moore, right, hustling to keep pace. Photo by David Smith

com and advertised on other construction industry websites. Plus, word of the events is disseminated through other sources such as Workforce Solutions offices, Houston Community College and local radio spots. McAvoy said the job fair and larger recruitment drive are intended to attract both building inspectors and plans examiners, though the city’s big push will be for building inspectors. Both positions pay must more than 50,000. Plans examiners are involved on the front end of construction ventures. They review project plans to ensure they adhere to city codes and building standards. Building inspectors are involved throughout construction. They inspect the progress of the construction project to ensure it is following the plans submitted and meeting building standards. Plans for a project must be submitted when a developer wants to obtain permits, according to McAvoy. Plan submission is one of the initial steps in that process.

Meanwhile, building inspections occur at various points of the construction process. Major projects require multiple inspections, whereas simple projects may only require a final inspection. Applicants for the positions must have at least a high school diploma and in most cases have some journey-level experience in at least one of the main construction categories: mechanical, electrical, plumbing or structural (framing and foundations). McAvoy stressed that pursuing these new hires is vital to the city’s performance of an important part of a very busy construction landscape. A full complement of building inspectors and plans examiners is essential to enforcement of the city’s construction code, ensuring that construction meets standards of the uniform code. “It protects people buying and using the structures built,” he said. “It protects the builders, too, and even affects regional insurance rates.”

Police on the hunt for officers By Paul Beckman

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hen police officer John Brown arrived at the northwest Houston bridge, a woman was teetering on its outside edge. With suicide on her mind, Brown’s instincts and training took over. “You just react,” Brown said. “I got out of my patrol car and went to grab her. As I grabbed her, she let go of the rail and she fell.” But not far. “I’m holding on to her shirt, pants. I’m grabbing arms, limbs, anything I can to not let her fall and not fall myself,” Brown said. Unable to pull her onto the bridge and unwilling to let her plunge, Brown kept up the struggle until other officers arrived a few minutes later. “We were able to get her up and over the rail,” Brown said. “That was a pretty intense moment for her. I’ll always remember that.” And more memorable moments are likely in his future. As a Houston police officer for two and a half years, most of Brown’s career is still in front of him. “I plan on staying here,” Brown said. “Hopefully moving up as high as I can.” Robert Manzo, an HPD captain in

Photo courtesy of HPD

recruiting, said the department is on the hunt for new qualified officer candidates who, like Brown, want to make serving the public their career. Houston’s 5,300 officers are everywhere — in patrol cars, on horseback, riding bicycles, flying helicopters and working in labs and offices, Manzo said. The job variety and promotion opportunities mean officers can spend their entire career with HPD. “One of the things that makes this a really fulfilling and challenging career is that a person can serve here for 20 or 30 years or more,” Manzo said. “They can always feel like they’re serving in a new assignment because we have numerous opportunities to begin a new job without changing employers.” The right stuff While an officer can take different career paths within the department, their dedication to serving and protecting the public must remain constant. Mark Slade, a senior police officer in recruitment, searches for candidates who are dedicated. Sometimes the search takes

him to other states. With 24 years in the department, he knows a good recruit when he finds one. “When you ask applicants why they want to be a police officer, the natural response is, ‘I want to help people,’” Slade said while on a recruitment assignment in Detroit. “There are people out there willing to put their life on the line and protect the public. Let’s face it, police officers aren’t getting rich. We’re doing it for the love of the job and the love of our community.” A desire to protect and serve the public is essential for any candidate. But it takes even more to become a Houston police officer. In addition to the minimum requirements, Slade said he looks at the whole person. “A candidate has to be thorough and has to be detail oriented,” Slade said. “They have to finish what they start. They need a stable home life, stable history. We can teach them all the nuts and bolts of police work, but they really have to want it.” Intangible rewards One of the biggest rewards of serving their community isn’t found on a paycheck

stub, but in the strong bonds they form with each other and the public. “That is a big part of this job – the camaraderie,” Brown said. “The camaraderie among your classmates, other officers, other divisions, other agencies, nationally. You take care of each other, no matter if you’re wearing the same uniform or badge.” Slade spoke glowingly of the respect and appreciation Houston officers receive from citizens. That’s a response he appreciates, and he is determined to find recruits who won’t erode that respect. “If I’m in the grocery store and I have my uniform on, I’m kissing babies basically,” Slade said. “People run up to you; they respect you; they’re glad you’re there. They’re glad you’re protecting them. And I don’t think a lot of cities have that admiration and respect. One of the things I’d never want to tarnish is the public’s admiration and respect for the police.” Find out more information about becoming a Houston police officer at www.hpdcareer.com.

Fall 2014


04 AROUND THE CITY White packs a punch for SWD and in the boxing ring Photos by Heidi Bane & Lucha Morales

By Lucha Morales

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ife-changing. That’s the best word to describe Cornelius White’s career with the city and his journey to become a world champion boxer. “It’s not what it can do for me,” said White, senior side loader operator in the Solid Waste Management Department, of his simultaneous public service and boxing careers. “It’s what it’s done for me.” White, who won his first light heavyweight world title in 2012, reignited his passion for boxing after joining the city in 2007. After serving 1-year sentences in 2000 and 2003 for drug offenses, White was determined to get a fresh start. And the city helped him do that. “They gave me an opportunity to prove I was better than what my record said,” White said. Yet early on, his dedication to the city was challenged. “I almost got fired my first week,” White said. “I didn’t have a car to get to work.” But White’s supervisor at the time, Tyrone Auzenne, gave him a second chance. That’s something he had been waiting for since being released from prison, White said. And with his new outlook on life, White literally went the extra mile to keep his new job. “I started running from Fondren and Willowbend to South Post Oak to get to work,” he said. For six months, White ran more than more than 10 miles each day from his home to the city’s Southwest Service Center, where he worked a 40-hour week.

“I came to the city and dedicated myself,” he said.

But the next year proved to be challenging for the world champion.

Getting in the ring “We played basketball a lot,” said White of Rodney Thomas, a retired Solid Waste supervisor who helped him start training. “He said he knew someone that worked at the George Foreman gym.” White, who had first tried boxing as a teen, began training at the George Foreman Youth Center in 2007. Three months later, he switched to Missouri City Boxing. After his eight-hour workday, he trained at Missouri City Boxing for three hours five times a week. “I would get to work by 6 a.m. and get off work at 4 p.m., just to get to the gym at 5 p.m. and stay until 8 p.m.,” he said. Soon after, White boxed in amateur fights and was quickly nicknamed “Da Beast” because of his explosive fighting style. “I kept knocking people through the ring,” White said. After more than 10 amateur fights and knockouts, White had his first professional fight in 2008. “It just took off from there,” he said. In 2009, White resigned from the city to pursue a full-time boxing career. “It was phenomenal,” he said. “I saw places I never imagined going.” From Atlantic City to the Palms Casino and Resort in Las Vegas, where he defeated Dmitry Suthosky in 2012 for the International Boxing Federation Light Heavyweight title. White was proving to be a tenacious fighter. “It was the greatest feeling in the world,” White said “I did something I didn’t think I could do at the time.”

The road to recovery After he lost to Sergey Kovalev, a year after his title win against Suthosky, White said he noticed something wrong with his eye. “The doctor told me there was a trace of a cataract,” White said. The news was devastating, White said. “I went into a panic. It was my last chance to be on that big stage. So I took the fight,” he said of his bout against Thomas Williams, which ended in a technical knockout win for Williams after one round. “Williams is a good fighter,” he said. “It was just his night.” White’s vision began to deteriorate even more after his loss against Williams. With cataracts spreading in both eyes, along with a detached retina in his right eye, White was forced to take time off from his boxing career. “If you can’t see, you can’t fight,” White said. “I was declared legally blind in my right eye. “I had four procedures done,” said White of cataract surgeries in each of his eyes, along with retinal reattachment surgery and removal of silicone oil in his right eye.

Cornelius White AKA Da Beast trains three times a week at Hank’s Gym in Bellaire and runs twice a week. White believes his job with Solid Waste keeps him in shape for when he re-enters the professional boxing world. For now, White runs along his daily route with a smile and a positive outlook on his career with the city.

With Video

Fall 2014

Coming full circle White, who was rehired by the city in September 2013, had his last surgery this past May and started training again at Hank’s Gym in Bellaire. “Now, I’m taking my time, applying myself better at my job and getting myself prepared in case I get a chance to be a supervisor,” White said of his return to the city.

Fuller, White’s supervisor, believes White’s willingness to assist and his can-do attitude are a plus. “He is always willing to help his co-workers complete whatever task is assigned,” said Fuller. “He has this way of making everyone around him feel good about themselves no matter how their day is going.” Recently offered a fight, White turned it down to focus on his health and career with the city. “I didn’t want to rush and get back and injure myself more,” he said. “I’m looking outside of boxing but staying ready for boxing.” “I’m back on that rear loader.” White said. “I’m out there doing all that and then come to the gym and do what I do.” And White hasn’t wasted any time living up to his infamous boxing nickname since his return to the city. “No one that I’ve met in collections works with a smile on his face while running alongside the truck from stop to stop tossing bag after bag of yard waste,” Fuller said. “The city has done a lot for me,” White said. “They gave me an opportunity when nobody would even hire me. “I’m able to do a lot for my family and kids,” said White, who married his high school sweetheart, Alexis Elder, 12 years ago. “I believe if it wasn’t for the city giving me an opportunity to work for them, I probably would be back locked up,” he said.


AROUND THE CITY

Sun’s ping-pong obsession burns for a lifetime

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Photos by David Smith

By Paul Beckman

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s a computer programmer, Yaopeng Sun often works behind the scenes. Tucked inside a cubicle maze in the Public Works and Engineering Department, only the clickety-clack sounds of his fingers skipping across a keyboard reveal his presence. But off the clock, a lifelong obsession pushes Sun onto center stage. He said he likes having a job serving the public. But after hours, his main interest is serving ping-pong balls. “It’s a lot of fun,” Sun said. “It’s the most fun from all the sports. It never feels boring. I can play all day long. I never get tired of it.” And that’s more than 50 years after Sun first picked up a paddle in a Dengzhou, China elementary school, where he’d sneak in a few games between classes or during breaks. But he is more than a ping-pong enthusiast. He’s a serious student and teacher of the game. “In China we have some universities that only emphasize sports,” Sun said. “So I went to a sports college, the Wuhan Institute of Physical Education. I studied all the sports, but I majored in ping-pong. So I’m a professional.” And in China, that’s saying something. Royalty may not rule the country, but pingpong’s reign as the king of sports shows no signs of ending. “Ping-pong is the national sport,” Sun said. “It’s like football here.” Getting schooled in ping-pong After graduating from the Wuhan Institute, Sun taught ping-pong for six years at Henan University. Then he got his master’s in sports theory and education at Beijing Sport University. “That is the No. 1 sports university in China,” Sun said. “Over there I concentrated on sports theory and research. Ping-pong is just one of the sports. After graduating, I was hired to work there. I trained students to be physical education teachers and coaches. So I am a coach of coaches.” In 1995, he came to the University of Houston to pursue a doctorate in physical education. But once he arrived, he switched gears and ended up with a master’s in computer science from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. “The computer was booming,” Sun said. “So everybody was learning computers. So

that’s why I changed my major to computer science. That’s a big change.” So was his decision to stay in America. He said he came originally because he thought the U.S. was “much better than China at that time.” And with Houston’s warm climate and affordable housing acting as a siren’s song, the city suited Sun just fine. Fountain of youth is a ball His decision to switch careers is one he never regretted, Sun said. After more than five years in PWE’s IT division, he said he still loves his job. But ping-pong is too deeply entrenched, and the theories behind the game still fascinate him, Sun said. “I love both work and ping-pong,” he said. “Ping-pong keeps me always active, energetic and healthy.” Sun is convinced he discovered the fountain of youth behind a ping-pong paddle. And it’s not something he keeps secret. “You see, I’m already 61 years old. An old man, right? But my mind and everything, I still feel sharp. When I play ping-pong, I don’t feel like an old man. I feel like a kid.” A few nights a week he plays at the Chinese Civic Center on Houston’s west side, where players who lose a match must give up their spot at the table to those waiting. Jinfu Xu, a 71-year-old man who was busy zinging ping-pong balls past an opponent, said the sport helps him stay young. And he credits Sun for showing him the ropes. “When I was 67, I started to learn pingpong,” Xu said. “I came here and saw him play. He played well, so I asked him to teach me. I’m never sick. Ping-pong is a good way to sweat every day.” Teaching, not playing, is his real talent, Sun said. Over the years he has taught thousands of people. Now he does it on occasion just for fun. “Everybody knows how to play,” Sun said. “If you want to play well, you have to get trained when you’re very young. So I’m a very good coach but not a very good player. A lot of people can beat me, but they cannot teach me. I can teach them. That’s the big difference.”

Public Works and Engineering’s Yaopeng Sun challenges opponents and teaches students at the Chinese Civic Center.

With Video

Fall 2014


06 DAY ON THE JOB Scott Erdo is sold on the value of surplus auctions By Elise Rambaud Marrion

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depository for unclaimed, unwanted, lost items that have outlived their service lives; the public surplus auction warehouse is like the city’s version of the Island of Misfit Toys. The warehouse shelves and aisles are littered with discarded tools, spare parts, confiscated art, surplus furniture, recovered stolen bicycles, and iPods, phones, purses and jewelry lost at the airport. And that’s just inside the warehouse. In crowded lots and junkyards around town, retired fleet vehicles and heavy equipment past their prime are just waiting for a buyer to repair or scrap their parts. As the manager of Administration and Regulatory Affair’s Asset Disposition Division, Scott Erdo oversees the online surplus auction. The city may not need these items, but somebody wants them, and Erdo helps them find a new home. “I can definitely say I don’t have a boring job,” Erdo said. “I meet all kinds of people. No day is ever the same, and it’s like being a kid again playing with trucks—especially when I get to sell fire trucks.” The auction relieves the city of surplus, but it also brings in revenue. The city used to hold live auctions, but the online version reaches more customers and saves time, Erdo said. “Since I started here in 2008, we went from making $400,000 a year in the auction to clearing $1.6 million on average. This

Scott Erdo, Asset Disposition manager, oversees the city’s surplus auction that earned $2 million in revenue last year. Surplus items range from jewelry and luggage from the airport lost and found to art, electronics, vehicles and stolen items unclaimed from the police property room.

Fall 2014

fiscal year, we cracked $2 million,” Erdo said. Occasionally there are treasures among the castoffs, Erdo said, such as brand new laptops and smart phones, jewelry, Versace, Coach and Louis Vuitton luggage and purses abandoned at the airports, and a Gibson guitar that turned out to be a very convincing fake. He’s also seen unusual items including an oversized star-shaped sign stolen from Macy’s that was unclaimed in the HPD property room, Erdo said. He has learned to spot certain knockoffs, but it’s up to the buyers to validate authenticity. The starting price for most items is $10, functional vehicles go for $500, inoperable, $300, and wrecks, $100, but buyer beware. Everything is sold “as is, where is,” with no guarantees. The thrill of bidding wars often drives prices to retail value and beyond, Erdo said. Anyone can browse the auction at any time, but online bidding closes at 8 p.m. “No, city employees don’t get first dibbs; they have to bid online with the rest of the public,” he said. “The market determines how high the bids go. “Like my co-worker Eddie Hudson says, ‘One day it’s chicken and another it’s feathers.’ Something might sell well above its value, and another will sit on the auction for months.” Erdo and a staff of seven employees

Photos by Elise Marrion

manage the afterlife of surplus items by receiving, cataloguing, posting photos of the auction, communicating with bidders and overseeing delivery. On a recent morning, a wrecker truck from San Dimas, Calif., loaded a 1989 truck with a crane that sold for $9,000, Erdo said. “There’s a certain risk in buying surplus equipment that customers need to be prepared for,” he said. “A lot of what we sell are C minus or D plus equipment that a basic mechanic can get running. They’re just not cost-effective for the city to keep in use. Many of our surplus vehicles end up being sent to Mexico or developing nations that really need them.” Whether he is climbing on broken-down tractors or prying a license plate off an old truck, Erdo spends more time in junkyards than the office. Clad in his cowboy hat and boots, he isn’t afraid of getting his hands dirty, and with the amount of rusty metal around, he stays current on his tetanus shot, Erdo said. “There are a lot of customers who buy heavy machinery at the auction, but don’t have a clear plan of how to haul it away,” Erdo said. “I usually have to walk

them through it, and make sure things are loaded safely. Once something leaves city property, it’s not our responsibility, but I’m more concerned about the mom driving the minivan behind that truck on the freeway. If that equipment isn’t loaded correctly, other drivers could be put in danger.” Erdo said he honed his logistics skills in his 20-year career in the U.S.Army. “My military career has served me well in this job,” he said. “I worked in artilleryin the Army, so I know my way around heavy equipment, and the logistics of getting things from point A to point B. Asset disposition is a success due to everyone in the operation, Erdo said. “We support almost every department of the city, and we serve the public every day,” he said. “This job takes a lot of initiative, and nobody on this staff says, ‘It’s not my job.’ We all do what it takes to get the job done, and it has paid off.”

With Video


INSIDE HOUSTON

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Photos by Elise Marrion

MUNICIPAL COURTHOUSE WEDDINGS

Couples seek life sentence By Elise Rambaud Marrion Most visitors to the city of Houston military personnel is waived. Municipal Courts hope to get in, get out Laughter spilled out into the halls of and get on with their day. But recently, the second floor at the 1400 Lubbock an increasing number are asking for a life courthouse August 12. A giddy and sentence. giggling Ana Rosales and Bryan Garza These days, there are a few more love were waiting to meet the judge and say, “I stories and smiling faces leaving 1400 do.” They weren’t expecting to get married Lubbock. Since November, 557 couples on a Tuesday morning, but the couple was have exchanged wedding vows at the eager to exchange vows, so they took the courthouse. first open date. In addition to presiding over traffic A whirlwind romance, they have known matters, misdemeanors, ordinance each other for six months. They met online. violations and juvenile case management, Just hours before the wedding, they had Municipal Courts began offering weddings returned from a trip to Mexico where the late last year. groom met the bride’s family for the first “I love to perform wedding ceremonies. time. When I get the call, I can’t help but smile,” “We’re just ready to start our lives said Judge Esmeralda Pena together,” Garza said. Garcia, who presides over “We’ll have a big wedding Municipal Court 7. “The later, but that just takes weddings are a bright time. I work offshore, so spot in my day. On one I’m working for weeks at particular afternoon, I a time. This worked out performed five weddings better for us.” back to back.” Judges’ chambers are The average cost of a small, but couples can wedding in the United have up to eight guests. States ranges between Ceremonies typically $20,000 and $27,000, take no longer than 30 according to multiple minutes. The Rosaleswedding planning sources. Garza wedding was But at Municipal Courts, completed so quickly the cost is only $100. that the groom forgot to Judge Maria Casanova After receiving repeated take his sunglasses off his requests to perform marriage ceremonies, head. Maria Casanova, associate presiding MCD Director and Presiding Judge judge, conducted the ceremony that was Barbara Hartle got permission from the attended by the bride’s father, the groom’s mayor to perform weddings, said Brian mother and two family friends. Leija, MCD administrative specialist. “Every wedding is different,” Leija said. Judge Hartle recommended that all the fees “We’ve had everything from the entire go to the general fund, so it’s a great way wedding party dressed in Houston Texans to generate revenue for the city. jerseys to the whole party decked out in Reasons to get married at the courthouse tuxedos and gowns.” range from affordability to time limits and Courthouse weddings may lack the time, just personal preference. Most couples preparation and guest lists of traditional have to wait at least 72 hours from the time weddings, but Garcia said they are no less they purchase their marriage license, but distinctive or meaningful. Leija said you can apply for a waiver. For “Each ceremony is inherently different example, the waiting period for active duty depending on the couple, their family, and

their culture,” Garcia said. “I have performed ceremonies completely in Spanish and bilingual ceremonies, flowing between English and Spanish so all can understand. Houston has such a diverse population, and we try to integrate some of the cultural traditions after the civil ceremony. For example, in both the Chinese and Indian cultures, there is an exchange of sweets or candy between both families. “Some couples like to have their children standing next to them,” Garcia said. “In one particular ceremony, after each party had said ‘I do,’ the 7-year-old boy, the ring bearer, looked up at me and said, ‘Wait! Wait! Aren’t you gonna ask me?’ In one beautiful ceremony, the 30-something couple spoke such loving, heart-touching, poetic vows that everyone, including myself, was brought to tears.” Leija corresponds with the couples and schedules the ceremonies. Couples can usually get on the schedule within a week, unless they want to get married on Friday. “Friday is the busiest day, so you have to plan in advance,” he said. “On Fridays, we have an average of 12 to 16 weddings, but only eight to 10 for the rest of the week.” Ana Rosales and Bryan Garza joined a growing list of couples to tie the knot at Houston Municipal Court. Above, they proudly display their marriage license after the marriage ceremony, and the bride celebrates with her proud father.

Fall 2014


08 HERITAGE

Photos by Paul Beckman

Houston’s first cemetery lives again By Paul Beckman

H

ouston’s downtown skyscrapers aren’t shy. Dressed in glistening glass and steel, they soak up attention by towering over everything else. But some of the city’s biggest giants are found by looking down, not up. Tucked just beyond the skyscrapers’ shadows is Houston’s first city cemetery, now called Founders Memorial Cemetery. And those buried there leave historical legacies that stand taller than any building. Graves of Houston’s founders, first residents and San Jacinto battle veterans occupy the tiny, quiet patch on West Dallas Street in the Fourth Ward. Once ignored and forgotten, the graveyard has recovered and now lives again. To the outskirts In 1836, shortly after Texas wrestled free from Mexico to become a new republic, two brothers from New York purchased 6,642 acres along the swampy Buffalo Bayou. Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen had the idea of creating a city that would be called Houston, in honor of Sam Houston, Texas general and the republic’s soon-to-be first president. The city’s rise was bolstered when it temporarily became the capital of Texas in 1837, a move the Allen brothers lobbied for. But the arrival of people also meant dealing with the dearly departed. So the first city cemetery was established the same year. “As was done then, it was established outside the city limits,” historian Betty Chapman said. “It’s just outside of what is downtown Houston today. But at that time it was way out.”

John Kirby Allen was buried there in 1838, only a couple years after literally putting Houston on the map. “Unfortunately he did not live long because we had a terrible yellow fever epidemic,” Chapman said. His mother, Sally Chapman Allen, and another brother, Harvey Allen, are also buried there. Houston co-founder Augustus Chapman Allen is buried in his native New York. Because of the Allens’ role in getting Houston started, the cemetery was renamed Founders Memorial Cemetery 100 years after it was established. Several veterans of the battle of San Jacinto are buried in Founders. This was the decisive battle that won Texas independence from Mexico. Only nine Texian soldiers were killed. The rest went on to live their lives. For some, Founders became their final resting place. “Many, many veterans of the San Jacinto battle are there,” Chapman said. “I’m not sure we know how many, because all the graves are not marked. Then there are some families. It was not just for well-known people or just for veterans.” History left for dead As Houston grew, so did the number of cemeteries. Although some burials at the Founders Memorial were performed into the early 20th century, most occurred much earlier. As the cemetery’s prominence waned, so did a willingness to maintain it. “It filled up for one thing,” Chapman explained. “There was no longer space to bury anyone there and it was pretty much forgotten. Sometimes it did look rather untended. And as will happen with

cemeteries, markers get damaged.” Jill Brooks, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Alexander Love Chapter, said the years of neglect took its toll on the cemetery. “Cattle used to graze on it,” Brooks said. “Goats grazed on it. That went on for decades.” The cemetery’s decline continued until 1928, when Congregation Beth Israel stepped in. It owned the well-tended adjacent cemetery. As Texas’ oldest Jewish cemetery, it was also historic and needed expansion. So the congregation purchased the shabby cemetery from the city. “They became concerned that they were neighbors of this piece of land that just looked really very deteriorated,” Chapman said. “They decided that if they could buy the land, they could reinter the bodies to private cemeteries. When the Beth Israel trusties realized the historical significance of the cemetery, they gave the deed back to the city, but insisted they clean it up.” The Texas centennial celebration in 1936 provided the perfect opportunity to bring the cemetery back from the dead. Even though the main celebration was in Dallas, a San Jacinto association was formed in Houston that tamed and revitalized the cemetery. “The association cleaned up the city cemetery, put in markers for many of the San Jacinto veterans that could be identified,” Chapman said. “They really changed the appearance.” During the celebration, the state of Texas erected monuments commemorating the contributions and service of 26 people

Who's buried in Founders Memorial Cemetery? Today around 80 markers are in Founders Memorial Cemetery. Just a few of the notable names include:

John Kirby Allen - Co-founder of Houston - Representative in Texas Congress

Robert Barr - Postmaster General of the Republic of Texas - San Jacinto battle veteran

James Collinsworth - Signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence - San Jacinto battle veteran - Texas Secretary of State - First Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Texas

Rebecca Lamar - Mother of Mirabeau B. Lamar, the second elected president of Texas

See CEMETERY on Page 11

John W. Moore - Signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence - First sheriff of Harris County, Texas

Isaac N. Moreland - San Jacinto battle veteran - Commander of the “Twin Sisters” cannons

Where are many of Houston’s historical giants buried? Closer than you think. Once forgotten and now revived, the city’s first cemetery is just down the street from downtown.

Henry Livingston Thompson - Commodore of the Texian Navy in the Republic of Texas

Fall 2014


AROUND THE CITY

09

Photos by Lucha Morales

HOUSTON SHIP CHANNEL CENTENNIAL EXHIBIT

Channel helps Houston’s ship come in By Lucha Morales

O

n Sept. 7, 1914, an echoing whistle announced the end of a 2-year project to dredge the Houston Ship Channel from a depth of 18 feet to 25 feet. And the 100-foot vessels that could now navigate the 200-foot-wide waterway made Texas the leading exporter of cotton in the U.S. over the next 10 years. Now, 100 years later, the Houston Ship Channel is a testament to the men and women who guide 800-foot-long tanker ships up and down the 45-foot-deep, 530-foot-wide channel each day. The ship channel, which is located in the central Gulf Coast, has helped make Texas the top U.S. exporter for the last 12 years. “The Port of Houston has a doorway to the world,” said Lou Glass, a retired Houston harbor pilot. “It’s called the Houston Ship Channel.” Glass, who helped navigate ships up and down the 52-mile-long channel for 24 years, said that nothing was more important to the success of the port and the ship channel than its workforce. And this year, the ship channel is celebrating its centennial birthday with the exhibit, Stories of a Workforce: Celebrating the Centennial of the Houston Ship Channel. The exhibit at the Julia Ideson Library recognizes those who

contributed to its success. “It documents the stories of the men and women who contributed to this marvel of ingenuity,” Glass said. “Its wonderful.” Presented by Houston Arts Alliance’s Folklife + Traditional Arts program in partnership with the Houston Public Library, the exhibit contains video, audio and photos. Launching the human element “This exhibition is not a standard history of the Houston Ship Channel,” said Pat Jasper, HAA director, folklife + traditional arts. “I felt it was important to give human voice to this incredible economic entity that feeds the city of Houston,” Jasper said of the audio and video elements of the exhibit. “It’s super organic,” said Angel Quesada, the HAA folklife + traditional arts program associate who designed the exhibit Quesada, who coordinated the installation of the exhibit’s audio and video domes, life-size photos and ship channel and port memorabilia, said that the life-size model of a pilot boat’s front end was a key element of the exhibit. “You’ve got kids and families who don’t know anything about the ship channel but

still have to be captivated,” he said. “I wanted to make it fun.” The exhibit explores the workforce through community, struggles and transformations, intergenerational traditions, mechanization, containerization and shifts in technology, Jasper said. “I became immensely aware of how little people knew about the fact that Houston even had a port,” said Jasper of interviews she conducted for Working the Port, a yearlong interview project funded by the Library of Congress in 2011. “I saw this as a way to heighten awareness,” said Jasper, who used the interviews as a source for the Stories of a Workforce exhibit. “I was really interested in labor and management from the docks to the boardroom, from ship to shore.”

Jasper and Quesada worked with HPL curator Danielle Burns to create and develop the exhibit’s history section. “There are so many people who are important to the workforce narrative,” said Burns, co-curator of the exhibit. “Learning about the port and the people who work there is learning a piece of Houston’s history.” Burns, who wrote and organized the exhibit’s history section, values the human perspective of the exhibit. “The exhibit’s approach to celebrating the ship channel centennial is unique,” Burns said. “The oral histories featured in the exhibit really represent so many workers’ stories.” “And that’s what this exhibition is,” Jasper said. “To reveal the hidden jewel that is the port and the people that make it happen.”

STORIES OF A WORKFORCE: Celebrating the Centennial of the Houston Ship Channel Julia Ideson Library, Tudor Gallery 550 McKinney Street Open through Jan. 31 houstonlibrary.org/learn-explore/exhibits/stories-workforce

The Stories of a Workforce Exhibit mixes modern and historic elements to add dimension to workers stories playing on audio domes throughout the exhibit. The life-size photos of dock workers and ship channel memorabilia take visitors on a 100-year-journey of diversity, revolution and modernization of the city’s unique doorway to the world.

Fall 2014


10

AROUND THE CITY

City employee’s other life is a real page-turner By Elise Rambaud Marrion

F

rom 8 to 5, Norma Jarrett focuses on contract administration for the city of Houston’s Department of Health and Human Services. But after work, she surrenders to the voices in her head. No, she’s not crazy. Jarrett has a running narrative of fictional characters in her mind. She sacrifices her nights, weekends and even some holidays to bring those characters to life on the page. Her books, which focus on friendship, faith and positive personal growth, resonate with a wide audience. She estimates that she has sold more than 50,000 books. Her work has garnered attention from Ebony, Essence, Gospel Today, Jewel, Publisher’s Weekly, Rolling Out, Southern Living and Upscale magazines, plus USA Today and other newspapers. She received a Certificate of Congressional Recognition for her novels, and she has served as a panelist and speaker for the Baltimore Book Festival, Faith & Fiction Retreat, Harlem Book Fair, Miami Book Fair and other literary events. Jarrett’s writing career began about 10 years before she started working for the city. Now, she balances public service with her passion for writing. Jarrett celebrated the 15th anniversary of her first book, “Sunday Brunch,” earlier this year and also launched the third book in the series, “Bridal Brunch.” She also wrote “Sunday Brunch Diaries,” and a book outside the series, “Sweet Magnolia.” Working with Jarrett, you might never know that she is the author of a series nationally acclaimed novels. She stays relatively quiet about her success as a writer at work, but her closest colleagues are among her biggest fans. To promote “Bridal Brunch,” she hosted a book signing and girls’ night out at Robbins Brothers jewelry store. That event

allowed her fans and couples shopping for rings to not only get a signed copy of her book, but also to sample food from a caterer and bakery specializing in wedding cakes, meet photographers and a makeup artist. Several city employees turned out to support her. Jarrett wrote her first book during her last year of law school and loosely based the books on a tradition of having brunch on Sunday with her fellow law school girlfriends, she said. “‘Sunday Brunch’ and all my books are a celebration of friendship,” Jarrett said. “At the time, the biggest girlfriend story out there was, ‘Waiting to Exhale.’ My book was a little different because it had an inspirational/faith component to it. You can think of it like ‘Sex in the City’ without so much sex. It’s designed for people who like a girlfriend story, but not so much graphic stuff. If you still want a fun, positive story, if you have a relationship with God or not, you can pick up this book and be entertained.” Jarrett self-published her first book, but it was later re-released by Random House, who offered her another book deal for “Sunday Brunch Diaries.” The third in the series is self-published. “I never actually practiced law after I graduated. Once the first book got rolling, I put law to the side, which was a bit crazy,” she said. “I had a good run for about five years, and every time I wanted to put writing on hold, something else happened, I got a feature story in Essence Magazine and then one in Ebony. I wrote a play based on ‘Sunday Brunch’ and took it on the road for a while. Just like with every artist endeavor, it can be all or nothing.” She eventually took a break from fulltime literary pursuits to teach business law at American Intercontinental and Our

Norma Jarrett’s writing career is no novelty. Besides her career in contract administration with the city’s Department of Health and Human Services, she is also a serious author. Her latest book is “Bridal Brunch.” Photos by David Smith

Lady of the Lake universities, Jarrett said. About five years ago, she applied to work at the city, so she could use her law degree. Working full time gives her the peace of mind to write in her free time, Jarrett said. She doesn’t have the pressure of relying on book sales or the erratic schedule of an attorney. Meanwhile, the discipline and focus she developed as a novelist helps her in her work at the city. “There are little things I see in everyday life at the city of Houston that inspire me in my writing — nothing bad, just little observations about the way people interact,” Jarrett said. “As writers, it’s easy to get lost in your own world and become isolated, so working with people — both colleagues and contractors — prevents me from retreating entirely into my writer’s bubble.” She advised fellow employees who are considering creative pursuits to use vacation time and days off wisely, go at their own pace, and guard their creative

time from distractions. “When you pursue something that is your heart’s desire, you are going to figure out a way to make time for it,” she said. “Know yourself, and don’t compare yourself to anyone else. I know people who are married, have kids, five different jobs and still find time to volunteer, but not everybody is like that. Don’t try to do everything at once, and balance the things you can do well. Even if you only work on your project little by little, at least you are trying.” Jarrett’s books are available in paperback and electronically on amazon.com, target. com, barnesandnobel.com, and walmart. com.

With Video

What people are saying (and writing) about Norma’s books: “Readers craving juicy plotlines driven by decent and compelling characters will always find a kindred spirit in Jarrett.” - Essence Magazine “Norma has created a recipe for inspiration, wit, friendship, and spiritual growth. Sunday Brunch portrays and examines ‘real life issues’ through vivid and relatable characters.” - Victoria Christopher Murray, bestselling author

Fall 2014

“How fun and how rare is this that once in a famished while, sistas are able to gorge on the delicious morsels of such a literary cuisine served by none other than a very talented sista such as Norma, spicy and bold, yet flavorful and rich ...Enjoy!” - Vivica A. Fox, TV and film actress “Like family conversations at the table, the author delivers real issues from characters larger than life.” - Upscale Magazine


AROUND THE CITY IAH

11

CONTINUED from Page 1

The event was reminiscent of the opening day festivities 45 years ago. At a time when the Jetsons were popular on television and the first moon landing was only month later, Robertson said the airport’s design mirrored the futuristic look popular in the 1960s. “Everything was sparkling brand new, with a lot of black and white contrast,” Robertson recalled. “The floors were all gleaming, white terrazzo tile. It looked like a space station, like something out of the future. The fact that airport had a train was fascinating, especially to a kid.” The airport and Robertson’s future became progressively intertwined. He grew up frequently visiting the airport, waiting at the gates for his father to return from business trips. “We spent so much time there, I considered Intercontinental to be my second home,” Robertson said. “Working at Intercontinental is like a dream job. I get to work where I used to play as a kid.” After graduating from Robert E. Lee High School, Robertson earned a bachelor of science in aeronautical science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He went on to become a commercial pilot and flight instructor. He worked for

Eastern Airlines, and found his way back to Houston with Continental Airlines. Robertson joined the IAH staff in 2004. “It’s almost an indescribable feeling being able to work here,” Robertson said. “On my first day, they took me on a tour of the airport and asked me where I would like to go. When I was a kid, we used to be able to go out to the observation deck to watch the planes, but those have been locked down due to security. It was the first place I wanted to visit.” He has since become known as the airport’s resident historian. For the 40th anniversary in 2009, Robertson compiled a detailed timeline of photographs of IAH’s history. That year, Robertson took his twin daughters, who were almost 6, out to the runway where he stood for the first time at the same age. “During my career, I have flown in and out of most of the major airports around the world, but I still love my hometown IAH airport the most,” Robertson said. “In college they told us that ‘the sky is limit.’ But for those of us in aviation, that’s just the beginning. I have loved seeing IAH grow these past 45 years and I look forward to seeing her grow and improve even more in the future. Happy Birthday IAH.” Bush Intercontinental Airport began as the airport of the future. That was 45 years ago. It has seen millions of passengers passing through its gates. And through the years it has grown, changed and evolved to remain modern and viable as the world’s gateway to Houston. Photos courtesy of IAH

Cemetery

First, there was print:

CONTINUED from Page 8

buried there. Because the locations of individual graves within the cemetery are largely unknown, the memorial markers were put in random spots. History reclaimed N ow the Parks and Recreation Department maintains the property and organizations like the Daughters of the Revolution and the Texas Historical Commission continue to improve and preserve the site, conduct research and educate the public. The DAR gives tours, picks up litter, puts flags on the markers during special days and even learned the tricks to cleaning the markers without damaging them, Brooks said. The Alexander Love chapter is reasearching aspects of the people buried there and the symbolism on the headstones. The cemetery may have had some bleak years, but the future looks brighter. Brooks said DAR is raising money to write a grant to get a master plan completed by a historical landscape architect that would shed light on the 1936 layout. Benches and a water fountain may be added to encourage the public to use the cemetery as a passive park. “We have this little jewel nestled in the Fourth Ward,” Brooks said. Even with all the improvements, there are still large patches with no grave markers. A couple small stones marked

“Unknown” indicate many of the buried are still unidentified. Spotty records and the passage of time work against ever finding out, Brooks said. Still, Chapman and Brooks said the restoration work already completed at the cemetery and researching the occupants they do know about make all the efforts worthwhile. After being designated as a Historic Texas Cemetery by the Texas Historical Commission in 2005, the cemetery was also named a protected landmark. “It’s where some of our very earliest citizens were buried,” Chapman said. “And they were people who had so much to do with the founding of Houston. So if you are aware of the people buried there and then know the roles they played in the history of our city, it takes on a real historical significance.”

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cohemployeenews.com Fall 2014


12 INSIDE HOUSTON

HTV’s Williams serves on key national board Houston Television Division Manager Dwight Williams has been selected as a board member of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, the premier local government professional association that provides support to members on federal communications laws, administrative rulings, judicial decisions and technology issues impacting the interest of local governments. As a board member, Dwight Williams Williams will serve as a key advocate regarding local government perspectives and public interest to ensure NATOA’s voice is heard and positions are considered in collaboration with key legislators and the FCC-Federal Communications Commission. Williams has worked for the City of Houston for more than 14 years working to enhance the capabilities of HTV. Dwight envisioned an HTV that not only shared programming but also empowered other public, education and government (PEG) channels through the development of a video sharing platform called “GovShare.” Williams’ passion for empowerment through sharing is energized by the possible creation of a national PEG network.

HCDD aids funding of new food pantry St. Monica Catholic Church Food Pantry has served heaping helpings of food and fellowship in Acres Homes for almost a half century. Since Oct. 18, it has been conducting its traditional service to the community in a new building. A ribbon-cutting last month helped neighbors celebrate the newly constructed St. Monica Food Pantry at 84241 West Montgomery Road. The 3,400-square-foot facility will double the capacity of the current foot pantry operations. The new St. Monica Food Pantry is a $1.3 million facility. The City of Houston Housing and Community Development Department funded a little more than $1 million of the cost with a Community Development Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The pantry has provided both physical and spiritual sustenance to those in need. Volunteers gather several days a week in a 10-foot-by-20-foot room of the church hall to assemble food for the 400 to 500 clients served each month. The new building not only houses the food pantry, which includes a food storage space and walk-in coolers, but it can convert to a disaster relief center when necessary, complete with a high-capacity generator and ice makers for relief efforts as well as showers for relief workers. Additionally, the new facility includes a conference room for social service gatherings and

AAAAHHHHHHHH!!! WAKE UP! YOU’RE HAVING A NIGHTMARE!

private consultation rooms where resume’ and interviewing assistance is provided to help clients gain employment. Safety council honors employees, programs City of Houston employees and programs were awarded for their work in safety at the 2014 National Safety Council Congress and Expo in San Diego, Calif. Human Resources Defensive Driving Program, Training Center won the 2013 Trend Setter Award for achieving consistently high performance. Several city driving instructors contribute regularly to the success of the program, but HR’s Bobby Hawkins, safety supervisor, was the star trainer who pushed the team over the top. Instructor Gwen Walter, Houston Public Library, accepted the award on behalf of the city. General Services Department’s Regina Pearrie was named the 2013 DDC 6 Instructor of the Year for outstanding work as a teach of the six-hour defensive driving course. “Regina was selected for this prestigious award from among DDC 6 instructors from literally around the world. The competition was fierce,” Walter said. Communications takes top honors Once again some of the nation’s preeminent marketing and communications experts are impressed with the work of the HR communications division. When the 2014 MarCom Awards for excellence and creativity in marketing and communications were announced, judges

IT WAS AWFUL... I DREAMT I WAS DOING SILLY TASKS ALL DAY WITH PEOPLE WHO HATED ME... I HOPE MY NEXT DREAM IS NICER.

cited City of Houston communications personnel’s writing, print design, video storytelling, cartoon drawing that go into employee newsletters and the city’s website. Judges also praised the outstanding communications efforts for the Combined Municipal Campaign. Out of 21 entries, the communications division earned 19 awards. Designer Heidi Bane, senior communications specialists Paul Beckman and Elise Marrion, and Communications Specialist Lucha Morales each won MarCom’s highest platinum award. Bane won for her design of the 2014 MS 150 team jersey; Beckman won for his article on the city’s first cemetery, Founders Memorial; Marrion won for her article tracing the Houston holiday tree from where it was harvested in Oregon to the lighting ceremony at City Hall; and Morales won for her work editing and assembling the HR online newsletter. In addition to the platinum awards, staff also won eight golds and seven honorable mentions. Other recipients were Senior Communications Specialist Nichole Robinson and Communications Specialist Supervisor David Smith. MarCom Awards is a creative competition for writing and design of print, visual, audio and web materials and programs. Entries range from Fortune 500 corporations and major marketing agencies to municipalities, small design shops and freelancers.

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TOO LATE... TIME TO GET UP FOR WORK.

By Paul Beckman

BECKHEADS

Judge Marshall to chair Texas bar section Administrative Judge Elaine Marshall was recently elected as chair of the Municipal Judges Section of the State Bar

of Texas for 2014-15. The election was earlier this year at the State Bar meeting in Austin.

City Savvy is published quarterly by the city of Houston Human Resources Department.

The Team

611 Walker, 4A Houston, Texas 77002 832-393-6160 hrenewsletter@houstontx.gov citysavvy.org

Mayor Annise Parker

Assistant Deputy Director Robert Thomas

Illustrator Paul Beckman

Human Resources Director Omar Reid

Publications Manager Leslie Denton-Roach

Designer Heidi Bane

Deputy Directors Ramiro Cano Jane Cheeks

Managing Editor David Smith

Editorial Board Katena Carvajales Stefani Farris Jedediah Greenfield Don Whitaker Lester Whiteing Alvin Wright

Assistant Directors Gerri Walker Helaine Rumaner

Reporters Paul Beckman Elise Rambaud Marrion Lucha Morales

City Savvy - Fall 2014  

City of Houston Employee News

City Savvy - Fall 2014  

City of Houston Employee News

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