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VOL 2 No. 48

Phone: 281-980-6745

www.fbindependent.com .fbindependent.com ww

FORT BEND FAIR. BALANCED. INFORMATIVE. WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2009

Chamber repeats Murder in the Mansion

Allison Wen, Safari Texas Ranch, Wes Adair, Murder By Chocolate, Pam and Bill Dostal, Dostal’s Designs in Fine Jewelry and Michael Garfield, the High Tech Texan, got into the act to promote the Central Fort Bend Chamber Alliance’s Jan. 17, 2010, Mystery Dinner Theatre Production. Bill Dostal, owner of DosThe interactive, audienceThe inaugural attempt at something lighthearted, fun participation production, set tal’s Designs in Fine Jewelry and unique in 2009 by the for Jan. 17 at Safari Texas of Rosenberg and Katy, which Central Fort Bend Cham- Ranch, is open on a first come, has been in business for 72 ber Alliance was a rousing first served basis, to the first years, donated a jewelry packsuccess, as the first Murder 100 guests who reserve seats. age worth more than $1,700 By Chocolate Mystery Din- Guests who correctly solve for last year’s Chamber Mysner Theatre was hosted last the “who done it,” will be put tery Dinner Theatre winner. Seats can be reserved by in a drawing for the grand March. It was so well received that prize – an exquisite diamond contacting Joy Dowell at For the Chamber has recently an- ring, donated by Dostal’s De- jdowell@CFBCA.org. nounced “Part Deaux, Murder signs in Fine Jewelry and val- more information, call the Chamber at 281-342-5464. ued at more than $1,800. at the Mansion.”

Sugar Land—50 years young, traces its roots Though incorporated in 1959, Sugar Land’s roots are deep, going back before Texas Independence. Originally part of Mexico and known as Austin’s Colony after Stephen F. Austin’s original 300 settlers, it was later called Oakland for the varieties of oak trees native to this area and in the mid-1800’s Sugar Land for the product that would shape the city and give birth to a company town and later incorporated city. Throughout 2009, it is the 50 years as a city that we celebrate, the period of “official” Sugar Land. On Dec, 15, 1959, 480 voters braved a rainy day to elect Sugar Land’s first mayor and aldermen. The 480 voters represented a 75 percent turnout of the 670 registered voters in the city. C.E. Ted Harman won outright in a three-person mayoral race. Five aldermen were elected form a slate of 11. For over 50 years before its incorporation, Sugar Land was a highly successful “company town” run in virtually all

aspects by the Imperial Sugar Company established in 1906. The Imperial model was not the same as those used in the mill towns of New England or the mining towns of West Virginia where poverty persisted: this company town was more a utopia, one man’s vision of the perfect melding of company worker and municipal citizen. After the deaths of the two men most responsible for the success of Sugar Land, the company town –Ike Kempner, who poured much of his wealth into the small town, and William Eldridge, the hands-on company manager—Sugar Land began an inexorable move towards incorporation. Nearby communities were also incorporating—both Stafford and Missouri City allowed gambling and saloons—so Sugar Land residents (with the blessing of Imperial and Sugar Land Industries) hurried to build a quorum of residents and file the necessary papers. Sugar Land was “born” as a master planned communi-

ty—thanks to the visions of Kempner and Eldridge. The company provided everything its workers needed from housing to schools, shopping and doctors. Residents had a strong sense of pride and security. Homes were rented only to employees, the size based on the number of family members. It was not until after WWII that Imperial began to sell off company-owned homes and land and Imperial employees were first in line to buy them. The first City Hall? A former shoe store on Kempner Street Imperial rented to the City for $10 a month—the company also loaned chairs and tables to furnish City Hall. The 7th annual Christmas Tree Lighting is scheduled for Dec. 3, from 5-8 p.m., at Sugar Land Town Square. Mayor James Thompson and Santa Claus will light a 40-foot Christmas tree to kick off the new holiday season . The year-long celebration will culminate in an exciting New Year’s Eve Golden Anniversary Signature Event.

P. O.BOX 623, SUGAR LAND, TX 77487-0623

Sugar Land, Missouri City post higher sales tax receipts By BARBARA FULENWIDER Four of Fort Bend County’s big cities saw sales tax receipts drop in November. The state comptroller’s November numbers reflect September receipts and Meadows Place, Richmond, Rosenberg and Stafford each received fewer dollars this year than they did in November 2008. The two towns that increased their collections this November were Missouri City and Sugar Land. Missouri City increased its sales tax receipts for November compared to the same period a year ago by 3.06 percent. Sugar Land had a 3.40 percent increase. Missouri City, which has a 1 percent sales tax rate, collected $594,551 this November for September sales and last year got $557,466 in November. Sugar Land collected $3,394,135 last November and this year took in $3,509,651. Meadows Place sales receipts were off 7.51 percent this November with $89,496 collected this year and $96,766 collected last year in November for September sales. Richmond’s sales tax receipts were down by 10.41 because this year the city only received $347,382 compared to last year’s November receipts of $387,812. Rosenberg’s November sales taxes this year also dipped by 3.82 percent from $947,971 collected this November for September sales and $985,652 collected a year ago in November. Stafford’s November sales tax receipts this November were $1,218,608 compared to $1,453,698 a year ago for a

16.17 percent decrease. The percent change in what the county’s six largest towns have collected this year compared to 2008 are negative for Meadows Place, Rosenberg and Stafford. The 2009 total payments to date are $958,412 for Meadows Place and were $967,427 last year for a minus 0.93 percent change. Rosenberg’s collections are down for the year by 0.55 percent. This year the city took in $9,752,153 in sales taxes and last year at this time had collected $9,806,544. Stafford’s sales tax receipts for the year are down 5.11 percent. Last year in November Stafford had collected 11 months worth of sales taxes that totaled $13,378,670. This year’s total through November is $12,693,727. Towns that have collected more sales taxes this year through November than for the same period last year are Missouri City and Richmond. Sugar Land stayed even with last year. This year Missouri City has brought in a total of $5,521,281 sales taxes compared to last year through September when the city had collected $5,289,842. Richmond’s percentage change for this year is a double digit 14.61. Last year the comptroller showed that Richmond brought in $3,369,195 through November and this year received $3,861,677 in sales taxes. Year to date Sugar Land has collected a total of $36,324,370 compared to last year at this time when the city’s sales tax receipts totaled

Quest Academy Stafford Municipal School District will hold a public hearing regarding a new ‘Optional Flexible School Day’ program. The public hearing will coincide with the regular monthly school board meeting on Dec. 14, at 6:30 p.m. in the SMSD Administration Building. The proposed QUEST Academy is a student-centered, alternative education program that considers the needs of diverse learners through a self-paced, computer-generated curriculum, while incorporating a variety of instructional methods. The ultimate goal of this program is for those students who are at-risk of not completing high school to be graduated. These students will also benefit from a partnership between SMSD and HoustonWorks USA that acts as a conduit to explore multiple college and career readiness goals.

SANTA’S EXCHANGE. This holiday season, the Exchange Club of Sugar Land, the Sugar Land Rotary Club and the Fort Bend Exchange Club invite the community to participate in their annual Santa’s Exchange project. This massive toy drive provides new toys to thousands of children of Fort Bend County families in need of assistance. The beneficiaries are families from Project S.M.I.L.E., the Fort Bend County Women’s Center and Child Advocates of Fort Bend. The organizers’ goal for 2009 is to collect enough toys or funds to provide for 3,500 children, which translates to over 10,000 gifts that we need to purchase or collect through our toy drive.

Introducing the new Back Pain Program at Memorial Hermann Sugar Land.

Relief is within reach

$36,324,757 for a percentage change of zero. Businesses that send in their sales taxes quarterly pay in March, June, September and December so those months spike somewhat compared to the others when only monthly payers must send sales taxes to the state controller. Karen Austin, Stafford finance director, said, “Usually the amount a business pays in depends on its size. When the city first opened Stafford Centre we paid sales taxes quarterly but as attendance grew, we became a monthly taxpayer. Whether a company pays monthly or quarterly is based on the amount the company pays in.”

It’s time to start experiencing relief with a personalized treatment plan from our new comprehensive Back Pain Program. Our skilled health team specializes in joint and back pain, offering both minimally invasive surgical techniques and noninvasive treatments. To learn more, call 281.725.5225 or visit SugarLandBackPain.com.


Page 2 • FORT BEND INDEPENDENT • DECEMBER 2, 2009

Community happenings

Child Advocates, partners celebrate National Adoption Day is able to provide a volunteer advocate for every child in foster care. For more information on CAFB and how you can help these small victims, visit www.cafb.org or call 281341-9955. The next volunteer training session begins in January. Call 281-344-5124 for details. National Adoption Day is sponsored by a coalition of national partners – The Alliance for Children’s Rights, Casey Family Services, Children’s Action Network, The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Freddie Mac Shania and Siandra Chapa show off their certificates to Child Foundation and Target CorAdvocates of Fort Bend CASA Volunteer Dawn Meador dur- poration – to draw special ating the Fort Bend County National Adoption Day Celebration tention to the 129,000 foster on Nov. 20. children waiting for adoption District Judges Ron Pope the 328th and 387th District in the United States and to and Robert Kern in Fort Courts, Child Advocates celebrate all loving families Bend County finalized 15 of Fort Bend (CAFB) and who adopt. adoptions on Nov. 20 in cel- its partner agencies: Arrow ebration of National Adop- Child and Family Ministries, tion Day. Six foster children Child Protective Services, were among the 15 children Fort Bend Bar Association, Fort Bend County Attorney’s adopted. The Fort Bend County Office, Fort Bend Lawyers To celebrate the success of 328th and 387th District Care, and the Fort Bend Zero Sugar Land Town Square’s Courts joined courts across to Three Project worked to- first-ever Restaurant Week the country in opening their gether to celebrate the joys participating Town Square doors on National Adoption of adoption and encourage eateries gathered to present Day to finalize adoptions of more families and individu- Fort Bend Cares with the children in foster care and als to give children perma- proceeds from the promotion. celebrate all families who nent homes through adop- Restaurant Week, which took place Nov. 1-8, provided dintion. adopt. Child Advocates of Fort ers the opportunity to take “This year’s National Adoption Day was a wonder- Bend is a non-profit agency advantage of three-course ful celebration” said Metoyer dedicated to advocating on menus offered for $25 at seEllis, CASA program direc- behalf of abused and ne- lect restaurants. Five dollars glected children through the from each meal was donated tor and chair of the event. “It was great to see the use of specially trained com- to Fort Bend Cares. (L-R) attorneys, CPS, Court Ap- munity volunteers and staff. Rich Taylor of Fish City Grill, Volunteers advocate for Joanne Fu of Taisho Japapointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers and children’s emotional, physi- nese Grill & Bar, Sonja White judges all work together to cal and educational needs of Fort Bend Cares, Gail Mcfinalize the adoptions and ul- while they are involved in Clendon of Fort Bend Cares, Chris Reyes of Olive’s Martimately give these children the court system. Child Advocates of Fort tini Bar and Kelly Harris of safe, permanent and loving Bend is one of only a few Vineyard on the Square. Eshomes.” Here in Fort Bend County, programs in the country that calante’s and Japaneiro’s, not pictured, also participated.

Partnering to lead Fort Bend County’s National Adoption Day celebration were (L to R): James Kincaid of the Fort Bend Bar Association, Fort Bend County Assistant County Attorney Rose Mary Schulze, Child Advocates of Fort Bend CASA Program Director Metoyer Ellis, Assistant County Attorney Marjorie Hancock, Dr. Ruby Shaw of the Zero to Three Court Team Project, Holly Reyes of Fort Bend Lawyers Care, Attorney Kathy Black from Fort Bend Lawyers Care, Court Coordinator Sue Ann Pitcock from the 328th District Court, Child Advocates of Fort Bend Executive Director Ruthanne Mefford, Court Coordinator Allyson Stephens from the 387th District Court, and Mary Reveles from the Fort Bend County Attorney’s Office.

Town Square’s Restaurant Week benefits Fort Bend Cares

Building homes of quality and distinction for over 40 years.

Plans, prices and availability are subject to change without notice. (10/08)


DECEMBER 2, 2009 • FORT BEND INDEPENDENT • Page 3

Suzette Peoples Broker /Owner

Debate over free speech and Open Meetings Act Sugar Land Councilman Russell Jones tackles a controversial topic in his column on the opinion page of this newspaper. The issue deals with the Texas Open Meetings Act and in particular the criminal penalties on elected officials who knowingly violate the law. Jones has a case to make and that once again falls under his free speech rights, but he faults the newspapers for the wrong reasons. First, an elected official is answerable to the public. The newspapers do not enjoy any additional Constitutional rights that are not enjoyed by all citizens. As such, if newspapers challenge the attempt by the City of Sugar Land and others to dilute the Open Meetings Act that is a legitimate matter of public interest. It cannot be construed as an act of self-interest by the newspapers. Jones’ argument, on the other hand, appears so. The City of Sugar Land has been fighting the changes to the Texas Open Meetings Act for the past few years on the ground that it places onerous responsibilities on the elected officials. Jones cites an example to highlight a flaw in the existing law. “If I think that there is too much traffic at the intersection of Highway 6 and U.S. 59, a major problem in Sugar Land, I can discuss it with my nextdoor neighbor. “However, I cannot discuss it with my mayor and atlarge council members at the same time. I cannot even send an e-mail to each of them to suggest that we put the item on the agenda for discussion. Such an act would subject me to criminal penalties.� Assuming someone is really going to charge Jones for discussing traffic or weather for that matter, he can wait until the next city council meeting and he can make a public

Inside Track By Seshadri Kumar

statement about it during the public comment period. Of course, the council may not discuss it without formally placing it on the agenda. Jones may have the courts come to his defense if he argues that the “content� of the discussion should determine if the Open Meetings Act has been violated, but I have some other practical reasons for having a stringent Open Meetings Act and its strict implementation as well. It is common knowledge that despite the stringent Open Meetings Act, decisions are still made in smoke-filled back rooms. And there are plenty of attorneys who help facilitate that. While newspapers regularly use the Open Meetings Act to ferret out information from a public body, ordinary public occasionally use it. A case in point is Fort Bend ISD. Right now, a battle is brewing between a citizen and the district over the proposed Global Science and Technology Center. Even this newspaper could not not get any meaningful information from the administration, not to speak of the “tight-lipped� board of trustees. The school district has perfected the art of Open Meetings Act so much so the district controls the flow of information with impunity. The district position seems to be that a few trouble-makers harass the administration with their ridiculous requests for information, burdening the

administration. That also costs time and money. Three years ago, Fort Bend County District Attorney John Healey gave a “slap on the wrist� to Fort Bend ISD for not following the spirit of the Texas Open Meetings Act. In those days, the district kept its “internal audit reports� confidential and discussed them in closed meetings without listing the topics. Every request for the report was referred to the AttorneyGeneral’s opinion and in all cases the district had been ordered to release the report. The issue became political and some people who wanted the internal audit reports made public lost the election. Some others retired. After a prolonged investigation, the district attorney concluded that the district’s agenda was inadequate and thus, in violation of the Open Meetings Act. Also, the board of trustees were spared because they had a defense. They acted on advice from the district’s legal counsel and were not knowingly violating the law. The DA advised the district to educate the trustees on the Open Meetings Act as a remedy. Ironically, the same attorney whose advice the district followed in not making the internal audit reports public has been re-hired by the district after a brief hiatus. The internal audit reports which used to be on the district’s website are no longer there as per the new policy of the administration, obviously blessed by the board of trustees. Regarding the Global Science and Technology Center, the district may have found a legal way to avoid too much public disclosure of the activities behind the scene by appointing a citizen’s committee headed by former Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace.

Sugar Land grows by 1,100 homes overnight RiverPark officially became part of Sugar Land with the annexation of the subdivision’s 3,592 residents on Dec. 1. Two years ago, a Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) between Sugar Land and Fort Bend County Municipal District (MUD) No. 1 created a plan for annexation. The SPA provided for limitedpurpose annexation of retail areas in 2007, followed by annexation of the entire MUD this year. RiverPark has contracted for fire protection from Sugar Land for years; however, annexation into Sugar Land will include all other municipal services. The Sugar Land Police Department will establish a new police beat to patrol the area, along with the Telfair subdivision, and Riv-

erPark will begin to benefit from the City’s public works and utility services, parks and recreation programs and animal services. Residents will also benefit from property value safeguards offered by the City. For instance, all new construction and remodeling requires building permits. Sugar Land also has zoning ordinances which establish land use requirements to benefit homeowners. Furthermore, the City’s code enforcement office ensures and protects health, safety and welfare in existing residences and businesses. Property taxes for RiverPark residents will decrease from what was formerly paid to their Municipal Utility District. In the 2008

tax year (the last bill collected) a resident in an average RiverPark home, with the District’s homestead exemption, paid roughly $975 in property taxes to MUD 1. That same house, with the same home value, in the 2010 tax year (the first year City rates will be assessed) will be charged roughly $557 for City taxes. The savings of more than $400 makes up for the slight increase – $18 a month on average – in utility costs. All together, RiverPark’s annexation will save an average resident just over $200 a year in tax and utility costs. There is also no cost to existing residents associated with the annexation. RiverPark residents will be represented by District Two Council Member Don Olson.

Wildflower demonstration project

21 years of experience!

A question will arise if the activities of that committee are beyond the purview of the Open Meetings Act, should the issue discussed to be related to the public body. The district has already invited proposals from architects for the project, and a report by Wallace is expected later this month. The impression given by the board so far was that the project will not proceed unless certain conditions are met, especially regarding private funding. But, the speed at which the project is progressing gives a different impression as if it is a done deal. So much for the people’s right to know and Texas Open Meetings Act, not to speak of the elected officials challenging the state, all in the name of the people who elected them. Incidentally, the school district is also joining a lawsuit against the Texas Education Agency over the issue of minimum grades that can be given to students. The decision in that matter was open, but the deliberations were not. After all, the board could discuss litigation in a closed, executive session.

Direct: 281-980-3322 www.peoplesproperties.com W NE

SUGAR LAND/COMMON- Suzette Peoples WEALTH. Over 4000sqft! 5 ABR, GRI , E-Pro, bedrooms 3.5 baths, game 21 years Professional room, study/formal and extra Realtor; Owner of room. Seller has updated Peoples Properties, a carpet, tile granite counters, Real Estate & Property Management Co.; & more in 2009. Roof replaced American Business too. Big yard. Price reduced Women’s Association. to go $300’s.

G IN ST I L

SUGAR LAND REDUCED

FIRST COLONY D CE days DU ng 10 E R ndi pe S ale

Popular David Weekly home! 2 story with master down. 3 bedrooms, study, gameroom, both formals and computer area. updated kitchen with granite. Wood and tile floors thru-out. New roof 2009 and new exterior paint and fencing. Priced to go fast at $200,000! Hurry don’t miss this one!

SUGAR CREEK Great 1 story on huge corner lot. 3 bedrooms & study. Seller has updated carpet, tile paint in and out and roof replaced. Shows great and price already reduced to go fast in the low $200’s.

FIRST COLONY G

SUGAR LAND

TIN

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CITY OF SUGAR LAND ETJ! PERRY 2 story with master down and gameroom up. Huge cul de sac lot! Built in 2003. Tile and wood laminate floors thru out. 3 car dettached garage! Priced to go at $190,000.

First Colony/Sugar Land! Over 3100 sqft 4 bedrooms 3 full baths. Master down and bedroom/bath down. Game room up. All new interior/exterior paint 2009! New carpet and tile 2009! Priced to go in the $200’s Seller spent over $32K getting house ready to sell.

Mortgage Banker can do loans in less than 30 days! Call Suzette for more info!

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FALL & WINTER MINI-TERMS and SPRING SEMESTER 2010 REGISTRATION

Fall Mini-Term classes begin October 26

(Walk-in registration only–now through October 23)

Winter Mini-Term begins December 21 (Register November 1 through December 17)

Spring semester classes begin January 19, 2010 (Register November 1 through January 16)

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Quail Valley Garden Club and Fort Bend County sowed a demonstration Wildflower half acre across Oyster Creek at FM 1092 and viewable from Mosley Park and the Oyster Creek Trail. The purpose of the project is to demonstrate that sowing wildflowers could decrease mowing and herbicide costs, properly done. Pictured are some of the volunteer planters (l to r) Gretchen Cockerill; Donna Hogan; Executive Assistant to Commissioner Grady Prestage, Katie Herrington; Nancy Lindsay; and Janice Scanlan. The project which should bloom in the spring will provide trail goers and motorists a beautiful view. To learn more about the Quail Valley Garden Club visit http://traction.typepad.com/QVGC


Page 4 • FORT BEND INDEPENDENT • DECEMBER 2, 2009

Opinion Texas Straight Talk Healthcare: Freedom or bureaucracy? By RON PAUL The U.S. Preventive Task Force caused quite a stir recently when they revised their recommendations on the frequency and age for women to get mammograms. Many have speculated on the timing for this government-funded report, with the Senate vote on health care looming, and cost estimates being watched closely. Just the hint that the government would risk women’s health to cut costs is causing outrage on both sides of the aisle. Even the administration is alarmed at its own panel’s recommendation. One official, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius told women to ignore the new guidelines, keep doing what they are doing and make the best decisions for themselves after consulting with their doctors. This sounds like an excellent idea to me. As a physician myself, I understand the importance of ensuring that patients are able to consult their doctors and make their own decisions without interference from government bureaucrats or governmentfavored corporations. However, I am confused by the administration’s reasoning and apparent change of heart. Have they reversed their position on healthcare reform and now decided that patients and doctors should

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul be in control of individual healthcare decisions? Or are they still in the healthcare central planning business? The healthcare reform plans currently aim to empower Congress to dictate to insurers minimal standards of coverage. Those government standards will ultimately be determined by politicians and bureaucrats, not individual patients and doctors. It is naive to think that recommendations by an authoritative government panel will never be used to deny services to people that want them. It is sad to think that people will be forced to spend their hardearned money for a one-size fits all, government mandated healthcare delivery model, but then have to scrape together additional funds to pay out of pocket for healthcare they really want or need – that is, if the government allows them

to at all. After all, the federal government currently forbids Medicare beneficiaries from spending their own money on services covered by Medicare, if for whatever reason they need to. Why wouldn’t the government eventually apply these kinds of restrictions to everyone, if they are successful with this takeover? Beware of the supposed gifts offered to you by government, for when it gives you things with one hand, the other hand takes away your liberty and independence. It remains to be seen what provisions will be in the final bill. We do know we have no funds to pay for it except for debt and money printed out of thin air. We know that the nation’s creditors are getting very nervous about the government’s continuous spending sprees and bailouts. We know this healthcare bill, like all government programs, will be expensive. There will be a day of reckoning when the credit stops and the bills for all this spending come due. When that day comes and politicians and bureaucrats have to deal with reality, it will be very uncomfortable to find yourself in their liability column, which is where healthcare reform will put many more Americans. (Ron Paul represents the 14th Congressional District in Texas.)

Musings: Good news... bad news. By JANICE SCANLAN Mostly beautiful weather for Thanksgiving and something not seen for years—golfers lined up to play the El Dorado course. And it continued from Friday to Saturday and Sunday. Except for tournaments, you rarely saw carts lined up to play during the later days of the course. I don’t know how La Quinta was in traffic, but the refurbished El Dorado course started well. It was a walkers’ paradise all three days during the early and late hours as well. I don’t usually carry my camera walking, but wished I had. Friday morning at sunrise, the number 17 spillway/ path was Chamber of Commerce ready with Roseate Spoonbills, Great White Egrets and a very large Heron. The course is way beyond a face lift—it’s more like complete body sculpting. While the old girl is recognizable, she’s got a lot more interest and character. There are more hazards including water, sand and lots of “valleys” for balls to roll into. My engineer husband commented that the drainage and water capture was much improved—including the paths. I’m hoping golfers liked it and will spread the word. But what I really hoped to see is happening . . . homeowners are re-investing in property. Lots of new decks and patios, improved gardens as well as viewing decks are completed or in the works. Pride of ownership and confidence are part of what every neighborhood needs to stay vital. The other part is feeling involved and part of the com-

munity . . . and that’s the bad news. Quail Valley Park has not achieved larger community buyin and pride. If you don’t golf, the “what’s in it for me” is too often missing outside of Quail Valley—with complaints about taxes, and now, calls for de-annexation. There are several issues intertwined here . . . so I’m just going to weigh in on one of them— taxes. We’ve had a ping-pong match between some residents and some council members on this issue. If we do anything new, it’s more taxes. There are two extremes: no new taxes. And we can’t find a way to do better and increase services. On my periodic attendance at Council meetings, I’ve noticed that rental property seems to take an inordinate amount of time and effort hauling property owners who have allowed deplorable conditions to blight our neighborhoods. The City, to its credit, spends time and money on deadbeat landlords who defile our neighborhoods. Add the time homeowners’ associations spend. That said, and I don’t have any numbers to support whether this idea might work . . . rental homes are a problem to property values in every subdivision . . . the city consumes a lot of time and expense around them. I believe in promoting and rewarding home ownership. Why not apply the tax increase to rental property— it could be in the form of a homestead exemption that rewards homeowners . . . but the net goal would be to make it more expensive to have rental homes to pay for the increased costs

10701 Corporate Drive, #282, Stafford, TX 77477 Mailing Address: P.O. Box 623, Sugar Land, TX 77487

281-980-6745 Seshadri Kumar Publisher & Editor David Hamner Sales Associate

Diane Parks Graphic Artist

www.fbindependent.com Email: Editor@fbindependent.com

to the City and hidden costs to other homeowners. It is a scenario worth considering. Write open.space@earthlink.net with your ideas.

The View From Sugar Land Speaking freely and openly... By RUSSELL C. JONES Texas newspapers are going nuts over a recent resolution adopted by the Texas Municipal League at the request of the Sugar Land City Council over cleaning up some unconstitutional language in the Texas Open Meetings Act. In a recent article, picked up by papers across the state, the Legislative Advisory Committee for the Texas Daily Newspaper Association transformed the TML’s resolution eliminating the criminal penalties on free speech contained in the Act to make every volunteer elected official in the state look corrupt. The hypocrisy of the newspapers on the Open Meetings Act is astonishing. At every other level, at every other turn, the newspapers are in the forefront of defending Fifth Amendment free-speech rights. Of course, what they really mean is free-speech rights for newspapers, reporters, and others associated with their industry. Sure, they acknowledge that even real people have freespeech rights, as long as that does not mean that the press cannot stick its nose into how other people use their rights. But, whatever you do, do not get elected to public office, or else you will no longer have the same right to talk to, say, your mayor, as anyone else on the street. For a council member to talk to other council members about city issues outside of a publicly posted meeting is a criminal offense in Texas, subjecting him to jail time. If I think that there is too much traffic at the intersection of Highway 6 and U.S. 59, a major problem in Sugar

Jones Land, I can discuss it with my next-door neighbor. However, I cannot discuss it with my mayor and at-large council members at the same time. I cannot even send an e-mail to each of them to suggest that we put the item on the agenda for discussion. Such an act would subject me to criminal penalties. That is exactly why the prosecutor indicted Avinash Rangra in the city of Alpine, which led to a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion blasting the Open Meetings Act. The newspapers like to note that the Fifth Circuit threw out the Rangra case. What they fail to mention is that the Fifth Circuit first issued an opinion that the Open Meetings Act should be reconsidered to determine whether it is unconstitutional. It later dismissed the case because it was “moot.” Rangra had been term-limited out of office and therefore supposedly had no further grievance against the Act. Every elected official takes an oath to uphold the laws of Texas and the United States and the constitutions of both.

Regardless of what many people think of politicians, most elected officials are conscientious custodians of citizens’ taxes and governmental assets, who receive minimal compensation for their public service. They are trying to do the job to which they are elected. They do not need to be worrying whether the district attorney is looking at their e-mail to determine whether they are trying to learn about issues of common concern from their fellow elected officials. Other states have open meeting laws which do not have criminal penalties for simply discussing issues with other officials. Those laws seem to work well. Why not in Texas? The flippant way in which the newspapers address the issues raised by the TML resolution raises the question whether their efforts to influence state policy prevents them from fairly and objectively reporting and commenting on that policy. If the newspapers want to criticize elected officials about the Open Meetings Act, perhaps they should examine the real deficiencies in the statute, starting with the fact that the legislature has exempted itself from its application. Indicting local city council members for doing volunteer jobs trying to improve their communities is the wrong approach to transparent government. Jones is the Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Sugar Land and serves as Councilman for District 3. He was first elected to the City Council in 2003. He owns a law firm and a title insurance company in Sugar Land.

Change in Medicare continues assault on physicians By JOANNIE PARR & THOMAS J. PARR, M.D. Your health care is about to change, no matter what happens in Congress, especially if you are on Medicare. On January 1, 2010, by current law, your personal physician will have his or her compensation for medical care provided to Medicare patients cut by 21.2%. There appears to be nothing your doctor nor the Texas Medical Association can do to stop it. The 21.2% Medicare cut to physicians has already been loaded into the Medicare computers. According to the TMA, “Physicians cannot continue to absorb cuts in Medicare fees and maintain viable practices. Medicare payments to physicians cover only about 65 percent of the actual cost of providing patient services. The sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula used to pay physicians must be fixed now to ensure seniors, persons with disabilities and military families have access to a doctor of their choice.” The SGR was deliberately made law by Congress in 1998 to punish America’s doctors for providing treatment to Medicare-aged patients. The SGR allows bureaucrats to decide that doctors --as an entire group across America -- have spent too much of Medicare’s money in one year, and so the bureaucrats are able to develop a doctor compensation schedule which will cut physician Medicare reimbursement the next year to make up for what they had “overspent.” The idea is to ration care to this population by making it financially unattractive to doctors to treat them. To illustrate the problem, for a total hip replacement done on July 10, 1990, Medi-

Thomas Parr care legally allowed our office to be paid a total of $3,117.17, which was about 60% of our then standard billing fee. With the scheduled 21.2% cut, we anticipate being permitted by law to be paid no more than about $1,112.00 for that same total hip surgery. That is an overall Medicare compensation reduction of 65% during the past 20 years! This legally restricted payment is for the surgery itself, as well as all related medical care for 90 days following the surgery. On average for 2010, the Medicare’s physician compensation schedule will not allow compensation any more than about 16-20% of the current fees overall. It also is illegal for Medicare patients to offer to give their physicians any more above the limits set by the Washington bureaucrats. What is extremely unfair about this approach to “Medicare cost savings” is that the burden is only on the physicians. Both hospital compensation and Medicare Part C Advantage insurance company plans (Medicare HMOs) are regularly receiving pay increases year after year. Both the Democrats and the Republicans are at fault for this mess, and our Texas Re-

publicans have led the way! Don’t let them fool you. The Texas Republican Congressional delegation’s SGR position against your Texas doctors is not because of the current fight in Congress over health care reform, as they are claiming. In 2008, Senator Cornyn voted against Texas Doctors in that year’s SGR fight, causing the TMA to rescind its endorsement of Cornyn in his re-election bid. President Bush then vetoed the bill intended to block the scheduled 10.6% SGR cut for 2009. The only reason you haven’t heard much about it in your personal doctor’s office is that Congress later came back and overrode the veto. At the last minute, America’s doctors got another one-year reprieve. But this year, there appears to be no reprieve. On Oct. 21, 2009, the Senate failed to move forward Senate Bill 1776, the Medicare Physician Fairness Act of 2009, by a vote of 47 to 53. Both Senators Cornyn and Hutchison voted against moving the bill forward. The bill would have permanently repealed the SGR law and would have established a new, more fair Medicare physician payment system. On Nov. 19, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 3961, the bill intending to stop the 21.2% cut in physicians’ Medicare payments scheduled for Jan. 1. The TMA reported that Rep. Michael Burgess, MD (R-Lewisville, an obstetrician), was the only Texas Republican to vote for HR 3961. Rep. Ron Paul, MD (R-Lake Jackson, an obstetrician) voted against it and thus against his fellow Texas physicians. HR 3961 has now been sent over to the Senate; but based

upon history, Texas physicians cannot look to either Cornyn or Hutchison for any help. The Democrats are equally guilty of refusing to listen to America’s physicians. There are a total of 16 physicians in the U. S. Congress. They really are a very diverse group -- 5 are Democrats and 11 are Republicans. There are five obstetricians, four family practice physicians, two orthopedic surgeons, one cardiovascular surgeon, one gastroenterologist, one radiation oncologist, one allergist, and one psychiatrist. If you want to build a bridge, wouldn’t you give the task of designing it to civil engineers? Then would it not have made good sense to put all the physicians together in one room, with some actuaries and Constitutional lawyers, and tell them they could not come out until they came up with a health care reform plan they all could agree on, both from a professional medical standpoint and from a Congressional standpoint? The bottom line to all the ongoing Congressional Health Care mess is this: something is going to have to give in your personal doctor’s office as of Jan. 1. Each doctor is now having to consider some drastic changes in order to remain in business. Don’t be surprised if your doctor decides to try to see about 25% more patients each day, to reduce the number of Medicare patients in the practice, or ultimately to just close the doors. Dr. Thomas Parr, an orthopedic surgeon in Sugar Land, can be reached at 281-4917111. Dr. Parr and his wife, Joannie, have been a team for well over 40 years and she has contributed to this article. Visit www.tomparrmd.net for more information.


FORT BEND INDEPENDENT • DECEMBER 2, 2009 • Page 5

Community news A ‘Classic’ case study in customer service By SESHADRI KUMAR Bill Heard Chevrolet used to be a landmark in Sugar Land. The car dealership was closed due to bankruptcy. The dealership used to receive bad press because of frequent customer complaints. Classic Chevrolet bought the dealership and sought to change not merely the name, but the image and reputation of the location as well. The new dealership owned by Don Kerstetter brought its reputation from Garland, Texas, and he was committed to being a responsible corporate citizen with customer satisfaction as the core business philosophy. Two months ago, one of our readers, who saw an advertisement in this paper placed by Classic Chevrolet, went for a service and was disappointed. He called in to say that dealership did not honor the offer it advertised. I called Kerstetter to inquire about the issue. As the reader complained to the Better Business Bureau, it took a while to resolve the issue. However, Classic Chevrolet has lived up to its reputation as evidenced by Kerstetter’s response. We reproduce below the complaint and Classic Chevrolet’s response as a classic example of customer service.. at its best. I took my car in to classic Chevrolet with a coupon for a front end wheel alignment. The coupon was for $39.95. The service writer Lori said the manager told her the price would be $99.95 but next time I came in it would be $39.95, When I started to leave she said, “have the service done and she would try and get the price to $39.95”. When I asked to talk to the manager she said they had all left .

Desired sett1ement Pay for a alignment at another business.... Kerstetter’s response to the BBB: Mr. Boerner left me message on my voice mail about noon of the day he came into the dealership that detailed his negative experience. I called him as soon as I got the message. Upon hearing his explanation of what happened, I knew that he had spoken with a new employee of the dealership who apparently had no idea of how we do business. I immediately offered a free alignment of his vehicle but he indicated that he had already had it done elsewhere. Although he may not remember, I offered to send him a check for the alignment but he declined, explaining that he wanted me to be aware of the incident but that was it. I gave him my cell phone number and tried to give him my email, as well, but he said he would not need it. Mr Boerner has every right to be upset and I will gladly compensate him for an alignment. I would be thrilled to do much more to prove to him that we don’t do business that way. I did call and leave a message with him to let him know the actions our dealership intended to take to remedy the problem but he never returned my call. My service manager attempted to contact him as well, but several calls were not returned. This is all a result of poor customer service on our part as he was well within his rights as a consumer to refuse to talk to us. However, this complaint will provide me the forum to explain to Mr Boerner what actions I took

to prevent this from ever happening again: 1) The employee was terminated immediately. I spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to advertise our services in various local media, including newspapers, multiple magazines, grocery stores, radio, and television, etc. and this money is spent to bring customers such as Mr Boerner into the dealership to show them who we aren’t. This employee had no idea what she was doing apparently and certainly was not qulalified to work at my dealership. Customer service is a passion in our organization and we will not have employees who don’t believe in what we do. Unfortunately, we made a bad hire and it cost us Mr Boerner’s business. Although I can’t take that back, it did lead to action number 2. 2) A company meeting was held that Friday, the day after I found out about what happened. I met with approximately 125 employees for 30 minutes to discuss what happened. The incident was discussed in great detail and all employees were informed about it. We have a unique culture here at Classic Chevrolet and an outstanding reputation. Many of the people who work with us drive more than an hour each way because it is a great place to work; and they believe in what we do. To find out that a customer was lost and a reputation damaged over one person’s actions is disheartening to say the least. Hopefully, the meeting clarified what we are about and removed any doubt from the remaining employees minds concerning customer service. 3) I apologized on the air on station 610AM that Saturday to Mr Boerner on The Carguy Show.

He had indicated to me that he had heard me on the show, so as I was scheduled to host the show, I used my advertising time to issue a public apology and discuss some of the bad things that can happen when you hire the wrong person. I had hoped he had listened that day but apparently he did not. Mr Boerner, we are a new dealership here in Houston but have been in business in Texas for almost 60 years. We have attempted to build the same level of customer service here as at our other locations but it will take time. Please accept my apology thru this avenue, and if you wish to discuss this more, please call me at the cell number I gave you during our conversation. I also left this number for you on your answering services today as soon as I received this complaint, which was delayed getting to me by a bad email address. If you simply wish to get your check: and move on, then I understand. However, you will miss the opportunity to see who we really are and I promise that you were the unfortunate victim of an isolated occurrence. Give us a second chance to make it right and you won’t be disappointed. Sincerely, Don Kerstetter Classic Chevrolet Sugar Land Boerner appears to have been satisfied with Kerstetter’s response. On Monday he complimented Kerstetter saying he had done everything he possibly could. “Because of the way he handled himself, if and when I buy a new car I would go to his dealership,” Boerner said.

Fort Bend Chamber presents in-depth coverage of Twitter The Community Resources Division of the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce presents an in-depth coverage of Twitter presented by Lach Mullen with Fort Bend County and Glenn Smith with The Growth Coach. This “lunch and learn” workshop will be held Dec. 16 from 11:30a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The cost is $25 for members and $35 for prospective

members and includes lunch and materials. This seminar will be held at the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce located at 445 Commerce Green Blvd. in Sugar Land. To register, contact Ellen Bush with the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce at 281-491-0277 or ellen@fortbendcc.org.

Live Nativity Scene Celebrate the Reason for the Season! You are invited to a Live Nativity, presented by the PALS Youth Group of First Presbyterian Church Sugar Land, 502 Eldridge Rd., on Saturday, Dec. 12. Performances are at 5:30 and 6:30 and cookies and hot chocolate will be served after each presentation. For further information contact the church office at 281-240-3195.

Take the Stress out of your Mess This Holiday Season Thanksgiving is past us, and we are all scrambling to get ready for Christmas. Preparing for the Neitra Blair holidays can become a very stressful time for some—therefore, I thought I would share a few of my favorite Professional Organizer holiday tips to help you relieve the stress. Christmas Time is here. Before going out to make purchases, create a binder to keep you organized through the holiday. The binder should consist of a budget, tasks to be completed, special ads/circulars, items to be purchased and stores. Use this binder as a guide to help you keep your sanity throughout the holidays. Deck the Halls. Create an area or use a spare room as a gift wrapping center. Set up a table or use a container that holds all your supplies (gift wrap, scissors, tape, pen, cards, bows, etc.). All I want for Christmas. Purchase gifts that don’t take up storage space. Some suggestions: spa package, movie passes, restaurant gift cards. Or create a gift card redeemable for one night of free childcare for the grandkids or a friend’s child. Professional services are great gifts as well: Lawn care, maid service, professional organizer, or personal shopper. While preparing for the Holidays, don’t forget the true meaning of this Season: To enjoy family and friends and reflect on old memories while creating new ones. Don’t let the mess of the Holidays stress you out.

Contact Info:

Local: 281-520-4401 Toll-Free: 800-311-4401 Email: organizinglifestyles@hotmail.com

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Page 6 • FORT BEND INDEPENDENT • DECEMBER 2, 2009

Community Calendar Free photos with Santa in Sugar Land Town Square

Become a Dental Assistant! 10 Week Course

Breakfast with Santa in Once Upon a Time…

Sugar Land Town Square is offering free photos with Santa Claus on Sunday, Dec. 6, 13 and 20 from 1 – 5 p.m. Guests will have access to a free electronic copy that can be sent to Grandparents, uploaded to Facebook or saved to a computer, all courtesy of the University of Phoenix. Santa photos will be located at 16190 City Walk between Fleet Feet and Eye Trends. For more information on all Town Square events visit SugarLandTownSquare.com.

Legal Notices

Holiday Food Drive Set for Dec. 4 Sugar Land’s Share Your Holiday Food Drive on Dec. 4, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Sugar Land Community Center, 226 Matlage Way, will benefit efforts of the East Fort Bend Human Needs Ministry to address the basic needs of local families in crisis. The ministry serves the community’s less fortunate through programs like the Interfaith Food Pantry, the Tri-City Churches Resale Shop, a financial assistance program, food fairs and other special programs. For more information on the food drive, call 281-275-2885 or visit www.sugarlandtx.gov.

“Deck the Halls,” on Dec. 6 The Fort Bend Symphony Orchestra recaptures the holiday magic as it presents “Deck the Halls” on Sunday, Dec. 6 at 2 p.m. at the Stafford Centre. The program, directed by Héctor Agüero, Jr., features classic, seasonal favorites like “Sleigh Ride,” “White Christmas” and “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.” In addition to the wonderful music, attendees can look forward to a surprise guest and a small Christmas Boutique. The latter features paintings, ornaments and other one-of-akind items created by orchestra members that will be available for purchase. All proceeds benefit the FBSO. This holiday concert is the most popular concert of the year so purchase tickets early at http://www.fbso.org or call 281276-9642. Individual ticket prices for adults range from $10 to $25 per concert. Senior and student prices start at just $5. Children 12 and under are free, but must have a reserved ticket. A discount of 10 percent is available off each ticket when purchased for groups of 10 or more. The Stafford Centre is located at 10505 Cash Rd at Murphy Rd in Stafford.

Library open house features music, food The staff of Fort Bend County Libraries’ Missouri City Branch, 1530 Texas Parkway, invites the community to join them in celebrating the holidays at an Open House on Tuesday, Dec. 8, from 4 to 8 p.m. Music and food will be available for all to enjoy. Featured entertainment at this year’s Open House will be the Missouri City Library A Cappella Choir and musical selections from area schools. Activities for making holiday ornaments will also be available. For more information, call 281-499-4100.

Houston Choral Showcase The Women’s Association of Sugar Creek Country Club combined with the Sugar Creek Garden Club will hold its holiday luncheon on Thursday, Dec.10. The event begins at 11 a.m. in the main ballroom of Sugar Creek Country Club,420 Sugar Creek Blvd. Members and guests will be entertained by the Houston Choral Showcase, Houston’s only pop/variety show choir. Their performance will include pop, jazz, swing, show tunes, movie songs, patriotic pieces and holiday tunes. Houston Choral Showcase has been entertaining audiences for over 76 years which makes them the oldest mixed community choral group in Houston. Reservations are necessary for members and guests. Call 281-494-5065 or email consy@midstream.net.

Christmas Home Tour Six generous homeowners in First Colony, Pecan Manor and Richmond have opened their doors to benefit young abuse victims in Fort Bend County. When the 18th Annual CASA Christmas Home Tour benefiting Child Advocates of Fort Bend begins on Dec. 11, guests will be delighted by some of the most exquisite holiday décor and home designs, entertained by area musicians and singers and will feast on homemade cookies and hot apple cider. HEB is the presenting sponsor for this year’s event. Volunteers are needed to host shifts at the houses, bake cookies and sell tickets. For more information on volunteer opportunities or to get involved, contact Danelia Argueta at 281344-5108 or dargueta@cafb.org.

Journey to Bethlehem Methodist Sugar Land Hospital invites the community to usher in the Christmas Advent Season. A series of worship events will tell the story of the coming of the Christ Child on the following days through scripture readings, music and devotional thoughts. •Dec. 2 - “Joseph’s Challenge”— Dr. Millikan, Dr. Pepper, Dr. Jackson •Dec. 3 - “The Birth of a Savior”— Griff Martin, Dr. Murray, Scott Cameron •Dec. 4 - “The Arrival of the Magi”— Nancy Penney, Janet Leatherwood, Tracie Gray-Jernigan All productions will be held from 12 noon to 12:40 p.m. in the Methodist Sugar Land Hospital Sweetwater Pavilion Chapel. For more information, call Spiritual Care at 281-274-7164.

Amahl and the night visitors The First United Methodist Church Missouri City, Music Department & Friends, will present the classic one-act Christmas opera by Gian Carlo Menotti, Amahl and the Night Visitors. Performances are scheduled on Friday, Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 19 at 4 p.m. Performances will take place in the sanctuary located at 3900 Lexington Boulevard in Missouri City. Set at the time of the first Christmas, Amahl and the Night Visitors is an inspiring tale about a crippled boy and his mother. Together they experience a miracle brought about by faith, generosity and forgiveness. The story was set to music by Gian Carlo Menotti, one of America’s most prolific composers. The cast includes Tommy Settlemyre as Amahl and Joan McClure in the role of the Mother. Admission is free, but love donations will be accepted.

Starting Soon Saturdays Only (281) 794-7944 www.Become-A-DA.com C. Mark Mann School of Dental Assisting Career Certified by: The Texas Workforce Commission Schools and Colleges

Remember far, far away and once upon a time, when Cinderella, Belle, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Prince Charming and Robin Hood enchanted us and brought such joy into our young lives? Come relive those endearing moments with your youngsters as we host “Breakfast with Santa in Once Upon a Time” with your favorite storybook characters on Dec. 12 from 8 a.m. —10 a.m, at Kona Grill, 16535 SW Fwy Sugar Land. For Breakfast Kona Grill will be featuring ‘Kids Breakfast Tacos’ and Pancakes

from their Sunday Brunch which just won ‘Best Place for Brunch’ in Fort Bend Lifestyles & Homes magazine. Sing Christmas carols, enjoy a delicious breakfast and receive a keepsake photo made with Santa or your favorite character from “once upon a time.” This fundraising event for FBT is sure to provide a wonderful holiday experience. Tickets for adults are only $25 and children 11 and under are only $15 and are available online at our website www.fortbendtheatre.com.

Christmas Musicale

Clements Choir

The Fort Bend Boys Choir’s annual Christmas Musicale will be performed at Williams Trace Baptist Church in Sugar Land on Sat., Dec. 12, at 7 p.m. All four performing choirs – Training, Town, Tour and Alumni – will be showcased. Tickets are available at the choir office, from any choir member or at the door. All proceeds from the Musicale are used for program support, operational expenses and scholarships. For more information, call 281-2403800 visit www.fbbctx.org.

Fort Bend Boys Choir open auditions The Fort Bend Boys Choir invites boys ages 8 - 13 with unchanged voices to audition to be a part of one of America’s largest and most prestigious choirs. Eligible boys will join 28 years of music excellence, travel locally, nationally and internationally on tour, learn multi-cultural music and establish lifetime friendships. The organization guarantees every choir member a worldclass music education and one of the most significant experiences of his life. Call now to schedule an audition—prior musical experience is not necessary! The only requirement to audition for placement into the Fort Bend Boys Choir is that boys must be 8 years old or in 3rd grade with an unchanged voice. Open auditions will be held Saturday, December 12, 2009 from 9:00 a.m. – 12 Noon at the First United Methodist Church Missouri City, 3900 Lexington Blvd., Missouri City, just off Murphy Road. Thanks to a grant from The George Foundation, free tuition is available for new choirboys their first semester! For additional audition information, please call the Fort Bend Boys Choir office at 281-240-3800. You can also find out about audition requirements or read about their five music programs by visiting their website at www.fbbctx.org or their new Facebook fan page.

Clements High School Choir will have their annual Winter Wonderland on Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. in the Clements High School Commons. This is a wonderful event that showcases the sounds of the season. Individual solos, small groups and large choral selections will be performed. Tickets may be purchased at the door. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students.

Commissioner Andy Meyers Fort Bend Chamber Infrastructure Planning Division meets on Thursday, Dec. 10, at the chamber premises at 7:30 a.m. Commissioner Andy Meyers will give an update on Precinct 3. Breakfast will be provided. Reservations are required. For more information, contact Ellen Bush at 281-491-0277 or at ellen@fortbendcc.org.

Bargain Book Sale Friends of First Colony Branch Library, 2121 Austin Parkway at Grants Lake, Sugar Land, will hold their monthly bargain book sale Sat. Dec. 5, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.. Good condition only books, CD’s, DVD’s (no magazines or encyclopedias) may be donated during regular library hours and are tax deductible. Children’s items are especially needed. 281-416-0936.

Loving Friends Loving Friends is a widow and widowers group that meets the third Tuesday evening of the month at the Terrace in Sugar Land. Loving Friends is open to all widows and widowers in the area for a meal and entertainment. The next meeting will be on Dec. 15 at the Terrace. The entertainment will be singer Julio Arriola, the winner of the 2007 Sugar Land Superstar competition. Members are asked to bring an unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots. For more information and a $15 reservation, call Rena at 281-499-9289 by Dec. 10.

LEGAL NOTICE INVITATION TO BIDDERS Sealed Bids will be received in the Office of Gilbert D. Jalomo, Jr., County Purchasing Agent, Fort Bend County, Rosenberg Annex, 4520 Reading Road, Suite A, Rosenberg, TX 77471 for the following until THURSDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2009 at 1:30 P.M. (CST). All bids will then be publicly opened and read in the Office of the Purchasing Agent, Rosenberg Annex, 4520 Reading Road, Rosenberg, TX 77471. Bids received after the specified time will be returned unopened. BID 10-036 – TIRES Fort Bend County reserves the right to reject any or all bids. Unit pricing is required; payment will be by check after products/services are rendered. Bid, payment and performance bonds are not required. Signed: Gilbert D. Jalomo, Jr., Purchasing Agent Fort Bend County, Richmond, Texas

PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE The Commissioners Court of Fort Bend County, Texas has set a public hearing on Tuesday, December 22, 2009 at 1:00 p.m. for acceptance of the traffic/safety study for the intersection of Gaston Road at Katy Flewellen Road for the installation of a multiway stop, Pct. 3. The hearing will be held in the Commissioners Courtroom, 309 South Fourth St., Suite 700, William B. Travis Bldg., Richmond, Texas. You are invited to attend and state your approval or objection on this matter. Submitted by, Dianne Wilson Fort Bend County Clerk PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE The Commissioners Court of Fort Bend County, Texas has set a public hearing on Tuesday, December 22, 2009 at 1:00 p.m. for acceptance of the traffic control plan for Grand Mission, Section 12, Section 14, Section 15 and Grand Mission Estates Section 2, Pct. 3. The hearing will be held in the Commissioners Courtroom, 309 South Fourth St., Suite 700, William B. Travis Bldg., Richmond, Texas. You are invited to attend and state your approval or objection on this matter. Submitted by, Dianne Wilson Fort Bend County Clerk PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE The Commissioners Court of Fort Bend County, Texas has set a public hearing on Tuesday, December 22, 2009 at 1:00 p.m. for acceptance of the traffic control plan for Roesler Road, Pct. 1. The hearing will be held in the Commissioners Courtroom, 309 South Fourth St., Suite 700, William B. Travis Bldg., Richmond, Texas. You are invited to attend and state your approval or objection on this matter. Submitted by, Dianne Wilson Fort Bend County Clerk

PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE The Commissioners Court of Fort Bend County, Texas has set a public hearing on Tuesday, December 22, 2009 at 1:00 p.m. for acceptance of the traffic control plan for Grand Corner Drive, Pct. 3. The hearing will be held in the Commissioners Courtroom, 309 South Fourth St., Suite 700, William B. Travis Bldg., Richmond, Texas. You are invited to attend and state your approval or objection on this matter. Submitted by, Dianne Wilson Fort Bend County Clerk

LEGAL NOTICE INVITATION TO BIDDERS Sealed Bids will be received in the Office of Gilbert D. Jalomo, Jr., County Purchasing Agent, Fort Bend County, Rosenberg Annex, 4520 Reading Road, Suite A, Rosenberg, TX 77471 for the following until THURSDAY, JANUARY 7, 2010 at 1:30 P.M. (CST). All bids will then be publicly opened and read in the Office of the Purchasing Agent, Rosenberg Annex, 4520 Reading Road, Rosenberg, TX 77471. Bids received after the specified time will be returned unopened. BID 10-032 – PURCHASE OF 13 – 69 TRANSIT BUSES FOR TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT A pre-bid conference will be held on Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 10:00 AM in the Purchasing Department located at 4520 Reading Road, Rosenberg, Texas. Attendance is not mandatory, but all vendors are encouraged to attend. Unit pricing is required, payment will be by check after products/services are rendered. Bid, payment and performance bonds are not required. Fort Bend County reserves the right to reject any or all bids. Signed: Gilbert D. Jalomo, Jr., Purchasing Agent Fort Bend County, Richmond, Texas

LEGAL NOTICE INVITATION TO BIDDERS Sealed Bids will be received in the Office of Gilbert D. Jalomo, Jr., County Purchasing Agent, Fort Bend County, Rosenberg Annex, 4520 Reading Road, Suite A, Rosenberg, TX 77471 for the following until THURSDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2009 at 1:30 P.M. (CST). All bids will then be publicly opened and read in the Office of the Purchasing Agent, Rosenberg Annex, 4520 Reading Road, Rosenberg, TX 77471. Bids received after the specified time will be returned unopened. BID 10-042 – TRAFFIC SIGNALIZATION PROJECTS: TRAMMEL-FRESNO AT TEAL BEND BLVD/CHIMNEY ROCK ROAD AND TRAMMEL-FRESNO AT WINFIELD LAKES TRAIL/LIBERTY SQUARE A pre-bid conference will be held on Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 11:00 AM in the Purchasing Department located at 4520 Reading Road, Rosenberg, Texas. Attendance is not mandatory, but all vendors are encouraged to attend. Unit pricing is required; payment will be by check after products/services are rendered. Bid, payment and performance bonds are not required. Fort Bend County reserves the right to reject any or all bids. Signed: Gilbert D. Jalomo, Jr., Purchasing Agent Fort Bend County, Richmond, Texas LEGAL NOTICE REQUESTS FOR STATEMENTS OF QUALIFICATIONS Sealed Qualification Statements will be received in the Office of Gilbert D. Jalomo, Jr., County Purchasing Agent, Fort Bend County, Rosenberg Annex, 4520 Reading Road, Suite A, Rosenberg TX 77471 for the following until THURSDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2009 AT 1:30 P.M. (CST). Q10-039 – ROOF INSPECTOR AND CONSULTANT Fort Bend County reserves the right to reject any or all qualification statements received. Signed: Gilbert D. Jalomo, Jr., Purchasing Agent Fort Bend County, Richmond, Texas LEGAL NOTICE OF PUBLIC AUCTION FORT BEND COUNTY The County Purchasing Agent of Fort Bend County will conduct a PUBLIC AUCTION for SURPLUS AND SALVAGE PROPERTY on SATURDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2009 AT 10:00 AM. The auction will be held at the Fort Bend County Needville Purchasing satellite office located at 9110 Long Street, Needville, Texas. Items to be sold: 32-Ford Crown Victoria’s (2000-2008), 3-Ford cab and chassis (1989-2003), 2-Cherokee Jeeps (19972001), 1-Dodge Dakota (2001), 1-Dodge Ram (2000), 3-Ford 150 (1992-1997), 1-Saturn (1999), 1-Expedition (2004), 3-Ford Taurus (2001-2002), 1-Chevrolet Impala (2000), 3-15’ shredders, 1-Ingersol Steel Wheel Roller and 1-Ford New Holland 7740 Tractor. Registration and viewing of all items will begin Saturday, December 5, 2009 at 8:00 AM. The auction will begin at 10:00 AM. All items must be removed from auction site by 4:00 PM on auction day. All sales are final. All purchases must be paid in full on the day of sale by credit card (Master Card and Visa only), cash, personal check with a bank letter of guarantee, cashier’s check with a bank letter of guarantee, or company check with a bank letter of guarantee. Absolutely no checks accepted without a bank letter of guarantee. Fort Bend County reserves the right to add or delete items from the auction. Items offered for sale are sold as is where is and without warranty. Signed: Gilbert D. Jalomo, Jr., Purchasing Agent Fort Bend County, Texas LEGAL NOTICE INVITATION TO BIDDERS Sealed Bids will be received in the Office of Gilbert D. Jalomo, Jr., County Purchasing Agent, Fort Bend County, Rosenberg Annex, 4520 Reading Road, Suite A, Rosenberg, TX 77471 for the following until THURSDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2009 at 1:30 P.M. (CST). All bids will then be publicly opened and read in the Office of the Purchasing Agent, Rosenberg Annex, 4520 Reading Road, Rosenberg, TX 77471. Bids received after the specified time will be returned unopened. BID 10-041 – IMPROVEMENTS TO KATY GASTON ROAD FROM F.M. 1093 TO CINCO RANCH BOULEVARD A pre-bid conference will be held on Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 9:00 AM in the Purchasing Department located at 4520 Reading Road, Rosenberg, Texas. Attendance is not mandatory, but all vendors are encouraged to attend. Unit pricing is required; payment will be by check after products/services are rendered. Bid, payment and performance bonds are not required. Fort Bend County reserves the right to reject any or all bids. Signed: Gilbert D. Jalomo, Jr., Purchasing Agent Fort Bend County, Richmond, Texas LEGAL NOTICE INVITATION TO BIDDERS Sealed Bids will be received in the Office of Gilbert D. Jalomo, Jr., County Purchasing Agent, Fort Bend County, Rosenberg Annex, 4520 Reading Road, Suite A, Rosenberg, TX 77471 for the following until THURSDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2009 at 1:30 P.M. (CST). All bids will then be publicly opened and read in the Office of the Purchasing Agent, Rosenberg Annex, 4520 Reading Road, Rosenberg, TX 77471. Bids received after the specified time will be returned unopened. BID 10-040 – CONSTRUCTION OF HIKE AND BIKE TRAILS IN BUFFALO BAYOU PARK AND TRAIL SYSTEM Vendors are required to perform a site visit of the location. Site visits are to be scheduled with Mike Davis, Parks Department, at 281642-3716. Unit pricing is required; payment will be by check after products/services are rendered. Bid, payment and performance bonds are not required. Fort Bend County reserves the right to reject any or all bids. Signed: Gilbert D. Jalomo, Jr., Purchasing Agent Fort Bend County, Richmond, Texas


DECEMBER 2, 2009 • FORT BEND INDEPENDENT • Page 7

Fort Bend Exchange Club presents Young Citizenship Awards Fort Settlement MS Chess team Fort Bend Exchange and in the home, to achieve earns state championship Member, Kelly Orth, prethose personal, academic sented the Young Citizenship Awards to the following students at the club’s weekly meeting held on Nov.18. Award winners for the month of September were: Marshall Scott - Lake Olympia Middle School; Andrew Diaz - Fort Settlement Middle School; Simone Manuel - Macario Garcia Middle School. The students honored were chosen by the teachers and faculty staff at their school because they have demonstrated excellence in leadership, community service and academics. The purpose of the Young Citizenship Award is to find and reward those students who work hard at being good citizens at home, at school and in the communi-

Simone Manuel, left, Macario Garcia Middle School, Andrew Diaz - Fort Settlement Middle School and Marshall Scott - Lake Olympia Middle School. ty. In order to be nominated by their teachers, the student must display the following characteristics: Citizenshipdependable, and demonstrate respect for people,

property and the law; Attitude-courteous, helpful and caring to other students and adults; Academics-strives to the limits of his or her abilities, both in the classroom

goals which his or her teachers believe are within reach of the student; Service-readily and unselfishly helps others at home, at school and in the community; Leadershipdemonstrates an ability to work with and motivate others, has sound values, good judgment, a sense of fairness and has earned the respect of his or her peers; and Sportsmanship-to do his or her best during athletic competitions, respect for the rules of competition, places success of the team above the need for personal advancement. The Fort Bend Exchange Club meets weekly on Wednesdays at 11:45 a.m at Sweetwater Country Club. For more information call Candace at 281-239-9967 or candace.cagle@yahoo.com

Larry H. joins Houston Film Critics Society Fort Bend County can no longer claim all rights to the movie review talents of Larry Harrison who writes under the name of Larry H. Recently, Nick Nicholson, President of Houston Film Critics Society, announced that HFCS was pleased to recognize Harrison as a new member of the three year old film society. “Our membership criteria is designed to attract only the talented and successful film critics in our region and Larry Harrison certainly meets all of our standards.” Harrison has been writing reviews since 1997 and hundreds of his reviews are archived on his personal movie web page at LarryHmovieReviews.com and his law firm’s web page at LarryHarrison.com.

He has been the film critic for the “Fort Bend Independent” since its inception. See his most current review below and the web page of this paper at FBIndependent. com.

Larry’s passion for movies and the law began at an early age when he first saw Gregory Peck’s memorable portrayal of Atticus Finch in “To Kill A Mockingbird.” His reviews typically have

a humorous twist with a sprinkle of schtick, but he is serious about his dedication to the quality of movies. Readers of the “Fort Bend Independent” have become accustomed to his weekly film reviews and marvel at the amount of popcorn and Mr. Pibb he consumes. “But we look forward to reading about the latest movie experience by Larry H; I’ve been enjoying his reviews for over ten years” says Janet Glasgow, a movie buff and resident of Sugar Land. In addition to practicing law and writing reviews, Harrison also serves as an Adjunct Professor at the Sugar Land campus of the University of Houston-Victoria. And in the words of Larry H. “Rock ‘n Roll.”

alty notification agent. He is partnered with the more experienced and senior Captain Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson.) I’ve read several reviews about this movie and many of them miss the point in my humble opinion. And my opinions are rarely humble. The powerful and electric chemistry between Harrelson and Foster creates an ideal on-screen joint venture that garners Oscar nominations. Most of this movie has a 90+ rating but first time director Oren Moverman allows the extended character development to become a distraction. This is a rare problem in moviemaking. Moverman falls into the trap of allowing these two complicated characters to also have a life separate from each other, such as Staff Sergeant Montgomery’s conflicted love life, but these dalliances merely detract

from the emotional entertainment of the sparks of Woody and Ben. Normally, I criticize directors for failure to fully develop a role and the background story but the performances of these two are so commanding and dominant that any scenes without them fall flat. Woody has once again demonstrated the breadth of his talent with the role of Captain Tony Stone; it is his best. He is now one of my favorites for Best Actor. Problem: what do we do about the performance of Foster? I’m not sure as he received top billing which makes him the “star.” And I guess that makes Woody Best Supporting Actor. And now for the story. These two soldiers are tasked with the responsibility to notify the NOK (Next of Kin) that their loved one has been killed in action. Captain Stone explains to the untrained Sgt. Montgomery that we don’t

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Russell C. Jones Thelma Holoway Jones Lewis W. “Chip” Smith IV

Film Review : The Messenger It’s the day before Thanksgiving and I’m sitting at my desk having just finished watching “The Messenger” on my office DVD player. I’m beginning to like watching current movies for free in the comfort of my home/office. But I have no popcorn or Mr. Pibb. I have some Dr. Pepper. Maybe being a member of the Houston Film Critics Society isn’t so bad after all. This movie is a must see; currently it is showing at the Angelika. If you don’t have time to go downtown, be patient as it will be in the ‘burbs soon. Meanwhile, don’t forget about it because come Oscar time, you will wish you had seen it. Staff Sgt. Will Montgomery (Ben Foster) has recently returned from duty in Iraq as a wounded war hero. He only has three months left on his tour of duty with the Army, but instead of being able to coast through his last days, he is assigned to be a casu-

Sixth graders Ishani Sahu, Alex Y, and Suvedh S from FSMS were the top team at the Texas Grade and Collegiate Chess Championship Tournament held at the George R. Brown Convention center November 21st-22nd, 2009. They played in the K-8 grade level tournament and competed against other teams in their grade. 7th grader Arpam D (not in picture) also participated and placed 4th amongst other 7th graders in this 2-day chess tournament.

tell the girlfriend or the next door neighbor and we never come in contact or touch the NOK. And don’t say anything like “he’s expired or he’s no longer with us...just say that on behalf of the Secretary of the Army we inform you....” This heart-breaking scene is repeated 5-6 times and each time it happens slightly different, but the family, the two soldiers, and I were grief stricken on each occasion. I was stunned and riveted to the screen. This is not a Happy Thanksgiving delight so this might be another movie to pass on until you are spiritually fit and fully digested all the turkey trimmings. Harrelson, Foster and Moverman are all big winners in this small budget film. Rock ‘n Roll. Grade 90. Larry H. Email sugarlaw@ larryharrison.com

● Real Estate ● Landlord/Tenant ● ● Banking ● Creditors' Rights ● Collections ● ● Business and Corporate Law ● ● Business Litigation ● Mergers and Acquisitions ● ● Estate Planning ● Probate ● ● Property Owners' Associations ● In the Sugar Land Industrial Park 407 Julie Rivers Drive, Sugar Land 281-242-8100 rjones@jonesattorneys.com www.jonesattorneys.com AV Rated by Martindale Hubbell Not certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization

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Page 8 • FORT BEND INDEPENDENT • DECEMBER 2, 2009

Youth in Philanthropy holds countywide food drive

Local business receives FastTech 50 award

The first Youth in Philanthropy (YIP) Countywide Food Drive was held on Saturday, Nov. 14 at the Plaza in Cognitas Technologies CEO Jorge Marra and CFO Alicia Sugar Land Town Square. Marra of Sugar Land receive the 2009 FastTech50 Award The event was a huge sucgiven by the Houston Business Journal. cess with high school students Cognitas Technologies Inc., Sugar Land, a leading provider from all around Fort Bend helpof digital security solutions, announced it has been honored ing to collect non-perishable as one of the fastest growing technology-based companies in food items to benefit East Fort Bend Human Needs Ministry, the Houston area. Through its flagship product CrossLink, Cognitas has de- Katy Christian Ministries and veloped an innovative security solution that provides cost ef- Rosenberg-Richmond Helping fective Unified Seamless Access to corporate data wherever it Hands. YIP Student Leadership is located, anytime and anywhere. Teams from Fort Bend ISD, CrossLink can be delivered as an on-premise appliance or a Calvary College Prep, Lasecurity service in the cloud. mar CISD, Needville ISD and Now in its ninth year, the Fast Tech 50 Awards, published Stafford MSD representing annually by the Houston Business Journal, recognizes Hous18 different Fort Bend high ton’s top 50 technology-based businesses that demonstrate schools competed in a canned exceptional leadership and achievement of the highest yearfood sculpting competition, over-year revenue growth. Cognitas CEO, Jorge Marra said that “We are honored to be using collected canned goods. The students also participata recipient in 2009 and believe strongly in continuing to deed in face painting, bowling, velop products and services that address our customers’ needs, ring toss, a moon walk, and a all while contributing to the economic vitality and technology balloon station. leadership in the Houston area. Attendees were encouraged “While the overall business climate over the past year has to donate money and/or bags been very challenging, the digital security space has proven of groceries from Kroger’s virto be resilient in the recession. As we have done in the past, tual store. our strategy during the current downturn has been to leverage Dee Koch (above, displayour agility to position ourselves for accelerated growth as the ing a Velveeta cheese) with economy rebounds,� Marra said. the George Foundation said The Marras are involved with several leading community “We are very pleased with the service organizations in Fort Bend and Houston such as Child results of the first YIP CountyAdvocates, The Fort Bend Women’s Center, CASA, ESCAPE wide Food Drive. family Resource Center, Exchange Club of Sugar Land, and “The students had a great others.

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A participating student team displays its food can sculpture. Above, another can sculpture. time meeting their fellow Fort donated, and the partners who Mary Favre, Christopher Breaux, The George FoundaBend County peers and mak- helped support the event. The partners included tion, The Fort Bend Chaming a difference in the Fort Kroger, Minute Maid, Pepper- ber of Commerce, East Fort Bend County Community.� The event was a huge suc- oni’s Pizza, Sugar Land Town Bend Human Needs Ministry, cess thanks to the hard work Square, Sysco, Frito Lay, Nal- Katy Christian Ministries and of the YIP students, their co, Planned Community De- Rosenberg-Richmond Helppeers, volunteers, those who velopers, Safari Texas Ranch, ing Hands.

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