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January 15-16 • Ft Bend County Fairgrounds
New COVID-19 testing site opens in Sugar Land - Page 2
WEDNESDAY • JANUARY 12, 2022
Crews to work overnight on median project By Matt deGrood MDEGROOD@FORTBENDSTAR.COM
Construction crews in Missouri City can now work through the night to finish a $2.4 million project to install medians along FM 1092. The city council last week gave permission to a contractor to work on the median project afterhours, because the existing noise ordinance would have prevented it otherwise, according to city documents. Contractors working for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) are in the midst of a $2.4 million project to add medians on FM 1092 between State Highway 6 and State Highway 59, a distance of about 5.8 miles, according to department documents. While state officials argue the project will reduce traffic delays and reduce congestion, some elected officials and residents in Missouri City have raised concerns about whether medians are needed on the road, and what other measures might help the area more. “A number of people will be watching you,” Council member Floyd Emery said of the project managers. “But I’m sure you’ll do well.” TxDOT gave the contractor, Richmond-based SCR Civil Construction, a condition in their contract to perform construction after peak traffic hours, in an effort to reduce congestion on the busy stretch of road. Work on the project began this month in Stafford and will continue until reaching Missouri City later this year, according to city documents. Construction should last about seven months, according to the state.
Fort Bend / Southwest • Volume 46 • No. 21
Districts adjust quarantine rules for new semester By Matt deGrood MDEGROOD@FORTBENDSTAR.COM
Just days after school resumed for many Fort Bend County students, administrators at districts across the county found themselves in a familiar position – forced to adapt guidelines in response to a growing number of corona-
virus cases. Fort Bend ISD, for instance, shortened the recommended time that people who test positive for the virus should stay home from 10 to five days, in re-
sponse to new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said Sherry Williams, spokesperson for the district.
“Fort Bend ISD is shortening the recommended isolation time for individuals who test positive for COVID-19 from 10 calendar days to five calendar days if, by day five, the individual has no fever, no other symptoms or mild symptoms that are improving,” Williams said. “Mask wearing is strongly encouraged upon return.”
The district’s change in directive did not pass without some controversy, amongst parents. “Due to the fact that we’re not mandating masks (which I’m OK with) they should have left the quarantine timeline at 10 days,” wrote one parent on social
SEE QUARANTINE PAGE 9
Big league lift
Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, left, recently helped Richmond resident Caroline Bordelon, center, pay for a new car and apartment after meeting her while volunteering at a Houston-area holiday toy drive last month. At right is Bregman's wife, Reagan.(Contributed photo)
Astros star helps make holiday special for Fort Bend woman By Matt deGrood MDEGROOD@FORTBENDSTAR.COM
Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman was volunteering at a Houston holiday toy drive with his wife, Reagan, last month when in walked Caroline Bordelon, of Richmond, Bregman said. The event was supposed to include a meal for all attendees, but Bordelon, who had taken an Uber there, was in a hurry to get back to Fort Bend County,
she said. Little did she know, but the volunteer who helped her carry presents back to the Uber was Reagan Bregman, Bordelon said. “We were fortunate to meet an amazing human being in Caroline,” Alex Bregman said in a phone interview last week. “She’d had a really tough go of it recently, but the one thing she’d made sure to do was take an Uber across town to make sure her kids were taken care of during the holidays.”
A rough go of it might be an understatement. Bordelon, 39, a Zambia native who had been raised by an older sister ever since her parents died when she was young, had lost her car, apartment and full custody of her three children in the U.S. in 2021, said Darla Farmer, CEO of Sugar Land-based Hope for Three Autism Advocates – a group that works with Bordelon. Bordelon’s older sister had also died recently, Farmer said.
The Fort Bend County woman’s story, combined with her dedication to her children, so moved the Bregmans that they decided to pull off a Christmas like no other for her. They helped set her up with a new car as well as a new apartment in Richmond. “Alex texted me the day after the toy drive and said, ‘Darla, this is Alex Bregman, and I’d like to help Caroline,’” Farmer said. The fact that someone who’d been through so
much strife would still take time to get to a toy drive across town to make Christmas special for her children moved the Bregmans, Alex said. “We were so moved by how amazing she is,” he said. “We wanted to see her smile and be happy. When she’s Uber-ing across town to make sure her children enjoyed Christmas, that meant the world to us. We saw a mom who was will-
SEE HELP PAGE 9
Ridge Point’s Ford Jr. aims to carve own path By Landan Kuhlmann LKUHLMANN@FORTBENDSTAR.COM
T.J. Ford Jr. knows many immediately zero in on his name and think he might be on a predetermined route. However, Ridge Point High School’s junior point guard has long been determined to make a name for himself on his own merits – not riding the coattails of his
father. He’s the son of T.J. Ford, a Willowridge graduate who starred at the University of Texas before playing eight seasons in the NBA – but Ford Jr. is quickly letting the area know he’s a unique player on the basketball court. “It’s a blessing to have that knowledge I can gain access to that not many people have, and he does help me along the way," the younger
Ford said. "But really it’s about how to make my own way. (My dad) is helping me get on my own way and forge my own path.” Ford Jr. has been racking up both points and accolades so far this season. He is averaging about 13 points per game along with about six rebounds per contest in helping the Panthers (15-7, 3-0 District 20-6A) back to a familiar perch
Ridge Point's T.J. Ford Jr. prepares to cross over during last Saturday's game against Dulles. The son of former Willowridge star and NBA point guard T.J. Ford, Ford Jr. is looking to carve out his own path in basketball. (Photo by Landan Kuhlmann)
at the top of District
SEE FORD JR. PAGE 9
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FBISD vowing to review release Fort Bend County opens newest COVID-19 testing site in Sugar Land guidance following local incident By Landan Kuhlmann LKUHLMANN@FORTBENDSTAR.COM
In response to a growing number of coronavirus cases, Fort Bend County officials recently opted to increase testing capacity in the region. Last Friday, county officials announced the opening of the area’s first COVID-19 testing mega site at Brazos River Park, 18427 Southwest Freeway in Sugar Land. The opening comes about two weeks after County Judge KP George raised the county’s COVID-19 threat level to orange,
which indicates “moderate/high risk.” Dr. Jacquelyn Minter with Fort Bend Health and Human Services said confirmed positive cases have increased more than 500 percent over the last three weeks, and there were more than
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106,000 positive cases in the county as of Friday. “It does look to be milder, especially in those who are vaccinated," she said. "With so many people infected, it’s clear in regards to the profound effect on our healthcare system and to our infrastructure. …We want (everyone) to have more opportunities to test, isolate if they need to, and minimize the transmission in our community.” More than 80 percent of recent cases can be attributed to the omicron variant according to George, who said the rapid increase triggered the need for more testing. “We did this because there is a surge of the omicron (variant) in Fort Bend County, in this region, and in our country, and there has been a surge in the need for testing,” he said Friday. “We worked tirelessly with our community partners and health providers to ensure that the county is well-prepared to meet the needs of handling the impact of COVID-19.” The site will have the ability to provide north of 1,500 tests per day according to Davaco CEO/President Jordan Handel, who partnered with the county and city of Sugar Land on the drive-through site. The site offers testing free of charge to residents, and insurance is not required. Residents are encouraged to register for an appointment at mycovidappointment. com or by calling 281633-7795. Additional Fort Bend County Health and Human Services COVID-19 testing locations times and hours can also be found at fortbendcountytx.gov.
By Matt deGrood MDEGROOD@FORTBENDSTAR.COM
A Mission Bend Elementary School student briefly went missing last week when that student was mistakenly assigned to the dismissal group that walked home from school, according to district officials. Fort Bend ISD officials released little information about the specifics
of what happened last week, including how long it took before the
student was reunited with parents and how old the student was. Instead, the district vowed to review dismissal procedures to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen in the future, according to Sherry Williams, spokesperson for the district. “We are thankful that the student was reunited with parents soon after school ended,” she said.
Videographers from city of Sugar Land win state awards By Landan Kuhlmann LKUHLMANN@FORTBENDSTAR.COM
The City of Sugar Land said Jan. 5 that Digital Communications Manager Jake Schnitzer and Digital Journalist Roman Perez with the city’s communications office were recently recognized by the Texas Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors for their excellence in producing videos for the city. A news release from the city said the annual awards “showcase excellence in video programming in Texas and are among the most prestigious honors in government communications.” Schnitzer and Perez won seven total state honors – including three first-place finishes – for efforts to make local government more accessible and transparent with their videos, according to the release. Sugar Land’s Memorial Day 2020 event video, made during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, won first place in the community events category, while the city’s “Best Tasting Water in America” announcement took home the top spot in the public education category. Its “Where does Sugar Land’s water come from?” video also took home top honors in the documentary
City of Sugar Land videographers Roman Perez (left) and Jake Schnitzer recently earned three first-place finishes and seven total recognitions in the annual Texas Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors awards. (Photo from city of Sugar Land)
category. Additionally, the city’s Mobility Master Plan video took third place in the public education category, while its 2020 Census “Do the Math” video was awarded third place in the public service announcement category. “Jake and Roman are professional storytellers whose creative contributions to our city are indispensable,” Sugar Land Communications Director Doug Adolph said. “They work collaboratively with employees throughout the
city to produce creative, professional content that makes governance more accessible and transparent, provides awareness of important services and programs, contributes to around-the-clock updates during emergencies and highlights the efforts of our champion employees who deliver the quality services our citizens expect.” Schnitzer and Perez’s videos were selected out of 314 submissions from 31 cities across the state, according to the release.
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Time to put political differences aside and focus on Harvey aid Matt deGrood MANAGING EDITOR
Last weekend I couldn’t help but think of an old quote from Molly Ivins, the late newspaper columnist, author and political commentator: “All anyone needs to enjoy the state legislature is a strong stomach and a complete insensitivity to the needs of the people. As long as you don’t think about what that peculiar body should be doing and what it actually is doing to the quality of life in Texas, then it’s all marvelous fun.” The same could be said of Texas politics, generally. Late Friday, just after I left work for the day, I received an email from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development press office, notifying me that it had technically nixed more than $1.95 billion in federal aid tabbed for communities recovering from 2017’s Hurricane Harvey, because state officials hadn’t submitted the required paperwork. “Ensuring resources for people and communities to mitigate risk from future disasters is our priority, and we are hopeful that Texas will take the steps needed to begin much-needed, forward-looking mitigation projects for the state,” the news release said. Can anyone think of a more Texas-sounding political disaster? The headlines almost write themselves $1.95 billion in Harvey aid left on table because some-
one forgot to meet deadline. It didn’t take long at all before administrators with the Texas General Land Office, which has been overseeing much of the state’s Harvey recovery, to respond, laying the blame on the federal government. “The partisan political game being played by the Biden Administration is putting Texans at risk,” said Brittany Eck, a spokesperson for the agency, in a statement to the Houston Chronicle. “HUD must approve this funding now, before the next storm hits.” Eck asserted the state office had submitted the required paperwork, contrary to the federal government’s claims. For those of us watching this debacle ensue from the outside, it will be some time before we can definitively say who’s right and who’s wrong. Maybe they’re both right, and the state’s paperwork got lost in the mail? The one thing that’s clear at this point is that, months after communities across the state, including several in Fort Bend County, received the news they’d be receiving community-changing federal aid dollars, political games are now afoot that run the risk of scuttling the whole thing. Those of us who lived through Hurricane Harvey won’t soon forget the feelings of terror and horror during those few days in late August 2017 when the rains came down. The residual trauma of the experience led to a sort of unifying call amongst political leaders of both parties across the region in the months after the storm. If there still exists any sort of bipartisan coopera-
tion in the year 2022, one would think it might be in the area of flooding mitigation. Simply put, Harvey caught us unawares and taught us lessons about what severe weather in the Gulf Coast might look like in years to come. It was incumbent on us, each of us, to act with urgency to prevent similar catastrophes in the future. Maybe with the passage of time our elected leaders in Austin and Washington D.C. have forgotten the urgency of those first months after the storm, or perhaps they never quite understood how it felt. Whatever the case, it’s now up to us to remind them. The primaries are coming up this March, and with them, we can possibly get Land Commissioner George P. Bush’s and the federal government’s attention. If we don’t step in, maybe with time they really will forget all about the billions in aid meant to help the region recover from flooding disaster. We need that money. If there’s anything I’ve learned in my time as a reporter, it’s that any and all flood mitigation-related projects are expensive, and money is hard to come by. If you take anything from this column, let it be this – please reach out to your elected officials, those on both sides of the political spectrum, and let them know you haven’t forgotten about Harvey. Perhaps with a little bipartisan cooperation, those of us in Fort Bend County and across the Houston region really can move mountains.
Worship Directory FORT BEND COUNT Y
HERITAGE BAPTIST CHURCH • 281-403-4994 2223 FM1092 • Missouri City, TX 77459 John Strader , Senior Pastor Sunday Bible Study 9:30 am Sunday Worship 10:45 am 6:00 pm Wednesday 7:00 pm AWANA/Youth www.hbctx.org METHODIST CHURCH
CHURCH OF CHRIST
STAFFORD CHURCH OF CHRIST • 281-499-2507 402 Stafford Run Rd. -Stafford, 77477 SUNDAY: Worship: 10:30 a.m. www.staffordchurchofchrist.org
CHRIST CHURCH SUGAR LAND • 281-980-6888
FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH • 281-240-3195
A United Methodist Community 3300 Austin Parkway • Sugar Land, TX 77479 Sunday Schedule 8:30 am Blended Worship 9:30 am Sunday School for all ages 10:30 am Traditional & Contemporary Worship www.christchurchsl.org
502 Eldridge Road, Sugar Land, TX 77478 Reverend Dr. Fred Seay, Pastor Sunday Worship In Person 11:00 am / Nursery Available Worship Online on YouTube www.fpcsl.org
ALL SAINTS EPISCOPAL CHURCH • 281-499-9602 605 Dulles Avenue, Stafford, TX 77477 SUNDAY: 10:30 am Worship Holy Eucharist www.allsaints-stafford.org
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“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” - MATTHEW 28:19
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Houston Methodist Sugar Land opens specialty clinic in Richmond By Landan Kuhlmann LKUHLMANN@FORTBENDSTAR.COM
The medical industry in Fort Bend County continues to grow, with another clinic recently joining the ranks. On Jan. 3, Houston Methodist Sugar Land opened its Houston Methodist Comprehensive Care Center in the Grand at Aliana shopping center in Richmond as part of their goal to improve
Shown is Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital. The institution recently opened a new offshoot comprehensive care clinic in Richmond. (Contributed photo)
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on-site lab services for residents. There will also be physical therapy courtesy of PT specialists from Houston Methodist Sugar Land available on the first floor of the facility, which will open to the public on Jan. 17, according to a Houston Methodist spokesperson. The release said physical therapy features a treadmill using anti-gravity technology to reduce weight on the lower extremities to help provide faster rehabilitation and safer conditioning. “From preventive care to advanced treatments, patients of all ages can benefit from the convenience of having multiple specialties under one roof,” said Chris Siebenaler, regional senior vice president and CEO of Houston Methodist Sugar Land. “We are excited to continue serving the Fort Bend community in a way that combines convenience with the high-quality care that patients have come to know and expect from Houston Methodist Sugar Land.” To learn more or to schedule an appointment at Houston Methodist Comprehensive Care Center in Aliana, community members can go online to houstonmethodist.org/ comprehensive-care-centers.
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Boys hoops powers asserting district dominance Landan Kuhlmann SPORTS REPORTER
District play got underway for many of the area’s Class 6A boys basketball teams last week, and several traditional powers have gotten off to strong starts as they look to assert dominance early in the district schedule. The Elkins Knights, Travis Tigers, and Ridge Point Panthers are all annual contenders in 20-6A, and all three teams went 2-0 last week to highlight the area’s boys action. Much of the attention for the Knights this season has been on star guard Chris Johnson. But it always takes more than one player to make an elite team, and they’re proving it with strong early-season play. The Knights (18-5, 3-0 District 20-6A) asserted some dominance with a pair of wins last week, in the process serving notice that they’re still one of the teams to beat in the area. Following a 61-52 win over Bush on Jan. 5, the Knights – ranked 5th in Class 6A by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches entering play this week – handily defeated the Clements Rangers by a score of 66-39 on Saturday. Kristopher Barnett paced the Knights with a season-high 16 points, while Johnson added 15 points, five rebounds and five steals against Bush. Jackson Fields also had 12 rebounds, his
Marshall Buffalos point guard Jaland Lowe surveys the defense during a Dec. 17 game against Hightower. The Buffalos are one of several teams off to hot district starts. (Photo by Landan Kuhlmann)
ninth double-digit performance of the season. Travis had wins over George Ranch (62-44) on Jan. 5 and Bush (53-51) on Saturday to move to 14-8 overall and 2-0 in district. Ridge Point is also 2-0 in district play following wins over Austin (61-55) on Jan. 5 and Dulles (63-39) on Saturday, moving to 15-7 overall. Austin dropped a couple of district games last week, but still had a few standout performances. Davion Jackson had
21 points – his second-highest scoring game of the season – to pace the Bulldogs (10-12, 0-3), while Tylon Harris added 16 points of his own. In Class 5A action, three Hightower players scored in double digits as the Hurricanes (15-8, 5-1 district) knocked off the Kempner Cougars on Jan. 4 for their third straight victory and seventh in the last 10 games. Jacory Chatman led the way for Hightower with 14 points, while Javon Smith
Austin, Ridge Point boys take home soccer tournament titles
Elkins' Chris Johnson brings the ball up the court during a 2020 game against Bush at Hopson Fieldhouse. Johnson and the Knights have begun District 20-6A play with three straight wins. (Photo by Landan Kuhlmann)
and Traveon Hannah added 10 points apiece. Jaden Hughes chipped in with nine points and six rebounds. The Cougars bounced right back, however. with a 76-43 win over Willowridge on Jan. 7, moving to 12-11 overall and 33 in District 24-5A play. Bryan Etunmu posted his third double-double of the season with 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Justin Peters had 10 points. Noel Ike also chipped in with 10 points and six rebounds as the Cougars snapped a three-game losing streak. The Marshall Buffalos also continued their strong start,
beating Angleton 86-51 on Jan. 4 and defeating Lamar Consolidated 94-50 on Jan. 17. They are 17-2 overall and 7-0 in District 24-5A. Girls Austin’s Lady Bulldogs continued their best season in nearly a decade with a pair of District 20-6A wins last week. Freshman standout Andrea Sturdivant had a strong all-around game for the Lady Bulldogs (19-5, 5-0) in a 65-27 win over Ridge Point on Jan. 5 with 12 points and 10 assists to go along with eight rebounds and five steals, while Gabby Johnson (17 points) led the
scoring attack. Johnson also had 22 points in a 60-54 win over George Ranch on Saturday, while Sturdivant poured in 27 of her own – her seventh 20-point performance of the season. The Dulles Lady Vikings are 15-6 overall and 4-1 in District 20-6A after a pair of wins. Dai Dai Powell led the way for Dulles with 18 points in a 57-36 win over Ridge Point last Saturday, while Jakiya Thompson had 15 points and six steals. Nya Threatt had a strong all-around contest with 12 points, seven rebounds, five assists and five steals.
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By Landan Kuhlmann LKUHLMANN@FORTBENDSTAR.COM
Soccer season is underway for many of Fort Bend County's high school teams, and a couple of boys teams from the area took home seasonopening tournament titles to kick their seasons off on high notes. Both the Ridge Point Panthers and Austin Bulldogs swept through their respective tournaments last week to highlight the area's seasonopening slate on the pitch. Austin rolled through the Alief ISD Tournament, outscoring its opponents 13-3 in three matches. Dillon Tremble secured a hat trick in their season and tournament-opening 6-0 win over Lamar Consolidated on Jan. 6. E.J. Iyoriobhe found the back of the net twice in a 3-0 win over Alief Hastings on Jan. 7 before netting a hat trick of his own in the tournament final, a 4-3 victory over George Ranch. Eli Garcia also had a pair of goals in the tournament, scoring against both Lamar Consolidated and Hastings. The Panthers, meanwhile, went 3-0 at the Katy ISD Mojo Classic from Jan. 6-8 in taking home the title. Senior Jeth Flores was one of the catalysts for the Panthers, scoring a goal against Katy Jordan on Jan. 6 and against Morton Ranch on Saturday. Sophomore Blake Pipkin scored a couple of goals during the tournament, and also served as a primary setup man by tallying three assists in three matches. On the Class 5A front, the Kempner Cougars took home second place at the Pearland/Pasadena Cup, going 3-1 in the process. Among the highlights was Emmanuel Rodriguez tallying the lone score in the Cougars' 1-0 victory over Texas City in the tournament semifinal. In Class 4A tournament action, the Stafford Spartans went 2-1 at their own tournament Jan. 6-8, losing to Marshall on penalty kicks in the opener before posting wins of 6-1 on Jan. 7 and 5-1 over Sweeney on Saturday. Girls Elkins' Lady Knights defeated South Houston 9-0 in its opener on Jan. 4 before going 2-1 at the Angleton tournament Jan. 6-8 to take
The Austin Bulldogs' boys soccer team celebrates after winning the Alief ISD Tournament last week. The Bulldogs went 3-0 at the tournament, outscoring opponents 13-3 in the process. (Photo from Twitter)
Ridge Point went 3-0 at the Katy ISD Mojo Classic last week to win the tournament title. (Photo from Twitter)
second place, losing to title match 1-0 to host Angleton. Freshman Amelia Olowu had six goals last week, including a hat trick in the opener against South Houston on Jan. 4 and two against Katy Mayde Creek in the tournament semifinals. Fellow freshman Sarah Lovetinsky had five goals in four games for the Lady Knights (3-1), including the only tally for either side in the Angleton tournament opener against Dobie on Jan. 6. Goalkeeper Ashley Arnold also had nine saves for the Lady Knights in the tournament final despite the loss. The Austin Lady Bulldogs split a pair of games last week, dropping a 5-0 decision to Katy Taylor on Jan. 3 before beating Rosenberg Terry by an identical 5-0 score on Jan. 7. Madison McCoy had a hat trick against Terry, while Neha Hussain and Solae Young also found the back of the net. Ridge Point's Lady Panthers went 2-0 at the Greater Houston Cup with a pair of 10 victories over Stratford on Jan. 6 and Pearland on Jan. 7, before the title match against Bridgeland was cancelled due to inclement weather. Junior Taylor Vinson tallied the lone goal for the Lady Panthers against Pearland. Kempner's Lady Cougars had a tough opening week, going 1-3. They lost their season opener Jan. 3 to Katy Mayde Creek before going 1-2 at the La Porte Tournament, but the opening week
was not without its highlights. Elizabeth Werts and Chloe Dillahunty each tallied goals for Kempner against Mayde Creek.
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It is an honor to be named Executor of a loved-one’s will. It means the person trusts you to step in to his or her shoes Margie Connolly, and take care of their final expenses, Attorney collect their assets, and distribute those assets to the persons named as beneficiaries. There may be other duties as well, such as filing or settling lawsuits on behalf of the deceased, establishing guardianships for minor or disabled children, or setting up trusts. So, while being Executor is an honor, it is also a job, which must be done in accordance with the deceased’s wishes, and with due diligence. It is advisable to obtain the counsel of an attorney and, perhaps, an accountant, to assist with the execution of these duties. If you are setting up your will, and are considering whom to name as Executor, keep these things in mind. It will reduce the stress and workload of your Executor if you have kept good records in a safe, accessible location, to which your Executor has access.
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Can a repair facility save me from paying my deductible? An honest repair shop will always say “no” to saving deductibles. Your insurance policy is a contract between you and your insurance Chuck Charlton carrier. It basically says that if you have a collision loss, you are responsible for the first portion of repairs (your deductible) and the insurance company will pay the rest. If the final repair cost is less, you’re still responsible for the predetermined deductible amount. Any reduction should correctly go back to the insurance company. There are legitimate ways to reduce your cost. An appearance allowance (credit towards your deductible usually for minor cosmetic repairs not completed) is one way but must be consulted with your insurance company. Be wary of the repair shop that offers to save you your deductible. Are they completing all repairs or is your safety being jeopardized with an inadequate repair?
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Wednesday, January 12, 2022 • PAGE
Reining Strength helps heal, bond through horsemanship Stefan Modrich See Fortbendstar.com for related video REPORTER
Richmond resident Tabitha Fleak’s 11-year-old daughter Madison has been overcoming obstacles since she received a heart transplant when she was 20 months old at Texas Children’s Hospital. After Madison, then 5, struggled to fight through boredom in physical therapy and speech therapy sessions, Fleak was in search of an engaging alternative. She found Reining Strength, 7126 FM 359 in Richmond, where Madison has been a regular ever since in the practice of therapeutic horsemanship. “Texas Children's Hospital saved her life and Reining Strength completely enriches her life,” Fleak said. “It’s just a great program.” Perhaps a testament to the work of the Reining Strength owners R.D. Sedillo and Heather Hernandez-Sedillo, a husband-and-wife team, is the fact that Fleak had called me from Dallas, where she was attending a competi-
★ QUARANTINE FROM PAGE 1 media. The changes seem like they'll cause unnecessary illness, said Valerie Callahan, a parent with three children in the district. Similarly, those in Stafford MSD that test positive must isolate for five days since symptoms first appeared, or since first testing positive, provided that they have been fever-free for 24 hours or are free of body aches and have improved symptoms, according to Gracie Martinez, spokesperson for the district. The new guidance comes as coronavirus cases have been surging across the county in recent weeks,
R.D. Sedillo checks on a horse in his stables at Reining Strength, 7126 FM 359 in Richmond. (Photo by Stefan Modrich)
tion of Madison’s. Madison also regularly participates in equestrian competitions like the one scheduled for Feb. 28-March 20 at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and others that are sanctioned by the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA). Sedillo said he and Hernandez-Sedillo work with clients with various challenges and
needs and that she has a special bond to the local Special Olympics community because her uncle was one of the first athletes to compete in the Special Olympics from Texas. Sedillo is also a Special Olympics equestrian coach. “We've had clients that weren't walking, and that their therapist said they're never going to walk,” Hernandez-
spurred by the arrival of the omicron variant. There are about 106,000 positive cases in the county, an increase of about 500 percent over three weeks ago, according to Jacquelyn Minter, the county’s health authority. “It does look to be milder, especially in those who are vaccinated,” she said of omicron cases. Most school districts in Fort Bend County that changed their isolation and quarantine procedures cited new CDC guidelines in their decisions. The new guidance recommends that children who are exposed to the virus should quarantine for at least five days, along with those who test positive and that those who test positive
should wear a mask for an extra five days after leaving isolation, according to an article on CNN. While local school districts have moved to reduce isolation time in response to the new guidance, the districts are not unanimously adopting all of the CDC’s recommendations. Fort Bend ISD, for instance, is only recommending people wear masks, not requiring them. And in Stafford MSD, district administrators are no longer requiring those that have been exposed to quarantine, according to Martinez. “Students may quarantine at home if they choose, the decision is up to each parent/guardian,” she said.
Reagan Bregman, right, the wife of Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, chats with Richmond resident Caroline Bordelon as one of her friends and Alex look on. (Contributed photo)
★ HELP FROM PAGE 1 ing to go above and beyond for her children.” This is where there’s some difference in the tale, depending on who’s telling it. In Farmer’s recollection, the Bregmans then proceeded to purchase a new car and secure an apartment for Bordelon. "I'm telling you, it hasn't even sunk in for me yet," Bordelon said of the holiday surprise. "I almost feel like someone needs to wake me up. I get emotional every time I talk about it." Bregman, meanwhile, is quick to thank a long list of people across the region for pooling resources to give Bordelon a Christmas
to remember. “So many people helped out with this,” he said. “Mattress Mack (Jim McIngvale) helped furnish her apartment fully, which was super nice of them, along with Gallery Furniture. Mark at Gulf Coast Ford in Angleton helped her with a car. My hitting coach, Jason Columbus, helped. And H-E-B has given her gift cards for groceries.” Perhaps Bregman was drawn to Bordelon’s story in particular, because one of her children was diagnosed with autism – a condition that is near and dear to Bregman’s heart because his godson has autism, Bregman said. In fact, Bregman’s nonprofit foundation, Bregman Cares, is meant to raise
money for children and autism awareness across the country. “It’s a passion of ours,” Bregman said. “And we’re only looking to get bigger and bigger. We have lofty goals for the coming year.” Bregman hopes to soon raise money for needs assessments for students, and one day in several years to open a school for children with autism, he said. Bordelon broke down in tears upon learning what Bregman and his foundation had done for her. "You see things like this on TV," Bordelon said. "I've been in Fort Bend County for 10 years, and worked with all these entities. And I never thought it would happen to someone like me."
3 Generations of Quality Service, Integrity & Honesty
Sedillo said. “And they started working on the horse and it gave them core strength and balance. They took their first steps and their family totally attributes that to their time and work on the horse. And that's pretty impactful to get to be a part of that.” From Whinny, the Norwegian Fjord horse and Morales
★ FORD JR. FROM PAGE 1 20-6A. At both the Fort Bend ISD and Brazosport ISD tournaments earlier this season, he was named to the alltournament teams. The 5-foot-9, 160-pound Ford Jr. is a dynamic playmaker, according to first-year Ridge Point head coach Darren Johnson, which might draw comparisons to a father who was named national player of the year in college before being a firstround draft pick in the NBA. But the younger Ford has visions of even greater things for his own journey. He already has a college scholarship offer from Texas-Arlington and has taken unofficial visits to both Creighton and Texas A&M. “The goal is to watch how (my dad) did things, and hopefully take that and become better off with it,” Ford Jr. said. “I see the things that he’s done, and want to try to have a higher achievement status – (take it) and try to be better.” More than meets the eye Johnson said Ford Jr. has become an unquestioned leader for the Panthers, who graduated six seniors from last year’s regional semifinal squad. In turn, he has taken some of the burden off of the coaching staff, according to Johnson, who is content to let the burgeoning star do his thing. “We just kind of gave him the keys, and built trust with him to go out and let him play his game," Johnson said. "He does a lot outside (the school) that helps his game. I never want to handicap a kid or stop him from being who he is. He’s been really good at understanding his role and not trying to do more than he has to.”
the Irish Cob to Keke the pony, among others, Sedillo said he likes to collect horses of different breeds to work with their clients. “Say you have this person with low self esteem who comes in,” Sedillo said, “and all of a sudden, they’re controlling this 1,000 pound animal. It’s really empowering. You're telling this horse to do something, and this horse is doing it. It gives people confidence, empowers them to be in control, validate for themselves and be more assertive in making decisions.” Before founding Reining Strength, Hernandez-Sedillo was the co-director of Texas Tech University’s Therapeutic Riding Center. Sedillo, a New Mexico native, is a registered instructor by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH). Reining Strength has a small team of instructors and full-time staff, and recruits volunteers to help its instructors mount and dismount their riders and maintain a safe and
comfortable environment for the riders and their families. During a volunteer orientation last Thursday, I met Paige Davis, a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from California. Despite not having any previous knowledge or experience with horses, she said she’d heard from other missionaries who had volunteered to assist at Reining Strength. “I thought it would be cool to help kids,” she said. Catherine Egbog, a student at Lamar Consolidated ISD’s Foster High School, said she was inspired to look into local equestrian organizations by the British Netflix series “Free Rein,” which chronicles a 15-year-old’s journey to an island off the coast of England where she moves to live with her mother and bonds with a horse. “It’s my first time volunteering, and I’m really excited,” Egbog said. For more information, visit reiningstrength.org or call 832-451-6874.
Following some early bumps in the road, the Panthers have reeled off six wins in their last seven games. And Ford Jr. is a big reason for that surge, according to his head coach. Leading the team was not initially a given considering Ford Jr. had to get accustomed to the role after coming off the bench last season. “You could tell it was awkward for him at the beginning trying to be the leader, but he’s grown into the role and he’s liking it now," Johnson said. "He’s performing, and it’s worked out for the best.” Ford Jr. is the team’s leading scorer and rebounder and is also second on the team in steals. Johnson said Ford is a complete player, with a basketball IQ to match his natural ability on the floor. “Guys listen to him, and we haven’t had any issues with the buy-in, which helps us a lot," Johnson said. "He’s done a really good job, and the IQ matched with focus and understanding the game plan is great. The offense takes care of itself, but those (aspects) are what really help him lead these guys on the court and in the locker room.” That’s a point of pride for Ford Jr., who said it was a lesson from his dad that drives him to play the way he does. “He always taught me to play hard,” Ford Jr. said. “No matter how I played overall or how I do, everyone can say that I played hard from the first quarter to the fourth quarter.”
Trae Young as well as Stephen Curry. He said he has also drawn influence from the work ethic of former Houston Rockets star James Harden, who he got to see work out in person at his dad’s basketball academy last year. And Ford Jr. knows he has a wealth of knowledge and opportunity to use on his basketball journey, such as seeing Harden work out firsthand. But his head coach said it hasn’t gone to the head of Ford Jr., who is maintaining a youthful mindset. Whether he’s slashing to the basket on the court or munching on dry cereal out of the box in the locker room, Johnson said Ford Jr. has managed to block out much of the hype. “People see the name and automatically assume that he’s one way, but the refreshing part of being around him every day is that he’s a kid – he enjoys being around his teammates and having fun. ... T.J. likes the same things any kid likes,” Johnson said. “It’s extremely rare, and I’ve been around other kids that are not that way. He could easily have a different outlook on life because of the name, but he doesn’t do that. He’s trying to do it himself.” It’s a balance, Ford Jr. said, and he still has taken more than a few of his father’s pointers to heart. But the younger Ford said his dad had also encouraged him to take his future into his own hands – which he has already begun to do. “He taught me to have tunnel vision. You’ve got to have your own vision for how you want to do things, and see it through with how you want to do it,” Ford Jr. said. “…I’m just going to continue to play hard, because then more people will show respect and look at me.”
All his own Ford Jr. said there is a little bit of his dad present in his game – which was inevitable being the son of an NBA point guard. But also present, he said, is shades of current NBA superstars such as Kyrie Irving and
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PAGE 10 • Wednesday, January 12, 2022
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Review: Jaime's Dairy Treat is a trip down nostalgia lane
Nibbles & Sips: Russo’s expanding pizza empire across Fort Bend County
By Stefan Modrich SMODRICH@FORTBENDSTAR.COM
By Stefan Modrich SMODRICH@FORTBENDSTAR.COM
Mike and Betty Vega have owned and operated Jaime’s Dairy Treat for more than 40 years. The humble burger stand with a red-and-white striped overhang and a few picnic tables still draws a crowd at lunchtime, when I stopped by last week to pay a visit to this old-school Richmond institution, which is cashonly and still writes down orders by hand. While the cheeseburger from Jaime’s doesn’t rank among the best I’ve had in Fort Bend County, I did enjoy sipping my Jarritos tamarind soda on a bright and windy day. It did strike me that the restaurant is probably culturally significant as a watering hole of sorts for longtime residents of Richmond and Rosenberg. But I did not find the contents of my cheeseburger basket ($6.99) to be anything special. The burger patty’s edges did have a slightly tough and chewy texture. These characteristics usually result in a smoky charbroiled flavor when present in a burger, but I had no such luck.
Russo’s New York Pizzeria CEO and founder Anthony Russo is no stranger to Fort Bend County, with two locations in Sugar Land, one in the Sienna neighborhood of Missouri City and another in Richmond. Houston-based Russo’s, which has grown to include locations in California, Florida, Oklahoma, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, has its eyes on continuing to expand in the Houston area, with new locations in Katy and Richmond planned to open in March or April, Russo said. Russo said he hopes his restaurant can fill the vacuum of high-quality sit-down restaurants in locations dominated by fast food pizza chains. He also said that the area’s demographics — families with kids — are his target market. “We're pretty excited about the area because there's a lot of growth there and a lot of rooftops,” Russo said. “We feel that's a good niche to serve fresh homemade Italian food.” The Katy location is led by franchisee owner Carmen Maria Torres, according to a news release from Public Content. It will open at 22723 Morton Ranch Road. The Richmond location’s address has not yet been determined, but it will likely be along State Highway 99
Shown is the cheeseburger basket from Jaime’s Dairy Treat in Richmond. (Photo By Stefan Modrich)
There are many different interpretations of grilled onions out there, but the version I received wasn’t grilled by any reasonable definition. Not that there’s anything wrong with raw onions, but I was disappointed that this one simple request couldn’t be fulfilled. If there was something that was most enjoyable about my experience at Jaime’s, it was alternating between sips of my caramel shake ($2.69) and bites of crispy, golden fries. And Mike, for his part,
was a friendly and hospitable host. But next time I’m in the neighborhood, I'm probably going to pass on the burger and go for a shake or ice cream instead.
Jaime’s Dairy Treat
Address: 1002 Jackson St., Richmond Dining Options: Dine-in, curbside pickup, delivery Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m-8 p.m. Sunday Entree prices: $1.49$7.69 Kid-friendly: Yes Senior discount: No Alcohol: No Healthy options: None Star of the show: Jarritos tamarind soda Rating:
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Russo's New York Pizzeria CEO Anthony Russo, pictured, has eyes on locations in Richmond and K aty. (Contibuted photo)
near Aliana, Russo said. Another location could also be in the works for Fulshear, Russo said. The Morton Ranch Road location will feature a 2,200-square foot space with an open kitchen and a large outdoor patio, with capacity to seat about 120 guests. New to the menu will be items like the truffle garlic knots, prosciutto burrata pizza, truffle mushroom pizza, truffle burrata gnocchi and bruschetta, served alongside craft beer and Italian wines. For more information, email info@nypizzeria. com. Summer Moon Coffee now open in Richmond An Austin-based coffee shop held its grand opening in Richmond last week, and a local franchisee hopes to continue growing its brand of oak-roasted coffee across Fort Bend County. Summer Moon Coffee, 11135 Harlem Road Ste. 210, opened last Saturday to become the second location in the county, the first of which is located in Sienna. Ryan Richardson, the franchisee of the Richmond location, was previously in-
volved as a franchisee of J. Alexander’s in Houston and Compass Group of America before learning about Summer Moon through his brother, a franchisee in the Dallas suburbs. What makes Summer Moon’s coffee unique? Richardson said his team uses “every one of their senses” to perfectly roast their coffee beans. “It's just an old world style of roasting,” Richardson said. “Nobody else does it. It helps eliminate the bitterness and provide a balanced roasting profile. If you have any of our coffees, it’s very smooth, it's not bitter and it's not over-roasted. It’s a very artisan way of roasting. We don't have any computers. We don't have a convection oven to just push a button and go.” Richardson is a Katy native who now lives in Richmond near the new Summer Moon location. He said he’s also targeting new locations in Sugar Land and West Katy for 2022 and 2023. Summer Moon is open 6 a.m.-8 a.m. Monday-Friday and 7 a.m.-8 p.m. SaturdaySunday. For more information, call 346-368-2939.
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In light of the COVID-19 outbreak and the cancellation of several community gatherings, please check with each organization for updated information about the status of their events. JANUARY 13 FORT BEND-HARRIS RETIRED EDUCATORS MEETING We will be back in the VENUE ROOM for: Meeting, Thursday, January 13th, 2022 at 1:00 p.m. Sugar Land First United Methodist Church, 431 Eldridge Rd. Program: Caring for Two Bambi (Baby And Mother Bonding Initiative). Bring toiletries for Santa Maria Hostel. Arrive earlier to socialize, sign in and pay dues if you haven't. All Fort Bend and Harris County I.S.D. retired public educators are invited. More information, call 713-206-2733. JANUARY 20 LAMBDA SIGMA CHAPTER OF DKG HYBRID MEETING Thursday, January 20th, the local chapter, Lambda Sigma, of Delta Kappa Gamma, an international professional society of leading women educators will meet in person and by way of zoom at All Saints Episcopal Church, 605 Dulles Avenue, Stafford, TX. Social time begins at 4:30 pm, and the meeting will begin at 5. Guest presenter: Glen Cole with Edward-Jones. Program: Financial Planning Women educators who are interested in learning about DKG , contact email@example.com
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JANUARY 22 FELICIA SMITH JIGSAW PUZZLE COMPETITION Register now for the Sixth Annual Hope For Three Autism Advocates Felicia Smith Jigsaw Puzzle Competition presented by LearningRx Sugarland. This exciting event takes place on January 22, 2022, at the historic Landmark Community Center, 100 Louisiana St., Missouri City. Teams of four, young (ages eight and up) and seasoned, have two hours to complete a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle. Awards ceremony immediately follows with ﬁrst through ﬁfth places recognized. Bragging rights are guaranteed! Registration at 9 am, competition 10 am-12 pm. The event is one-way the local nonproﬁt group raises awareness and funds for families and children living with autism. Hurry, limited seating, register today (team of four $140) at www. hopeforthree.org/events
Hall. Call the church ofﬁce at 281-491-6041 or Mike Schoﬁeld at 281-217-5799 for more information.
ONGOING LITERACY COUNCIL OF FORT BEND COUNTY We enhance lives and strengthen communities by teaching adults to read. We need your help. Literacy Council is actively recruiting Volunteer Tutors to provide instruction for English as a Second Language (ESL) Levels 0-5, three hours a week. For more information, call 281-240-8181 or visit our website www.ftbendliteracy.org
DVD-BASED ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS WITH NO HOMEWORK REQUIRED Weekly class designed to help you understand and appreciate the Bible by giving you a better sense of the land and culture from which it sprang. The class meets at 9:30 am every Sunday at First Presbyterian of Sugar Land (502 Eldridge Rd.). For more information call 281240-3195
JAM WITH SAM Join Sam Grice and his friends every Tuesday Night at 6:30 pm at First Presbyterian Church, 502 Eldridge Road, Sugar Land, Texas. The group plays folk, country, bluegrass, religious and patriotic songs. Call Sam at 832428-3165 or the church ofﬁce at 281-240-3195 for more information.
EXCHANGE EXCHANGE, AmericaÕ s Service Club, always welcomes guests and is in search of new members! Various Fort Bend clubs exist and can accommodate early morning (7 a.m.), noon and evening meeting time desires. For more info, contact Mike Reichek, Regional Vice President, 281575-1145 or mike@reichekﬁnancial.com We would love to have you join us and see what we are all about!
THURSDAY MORNING BIBLE STUDY FOR MEN Sugar Land First United Methodist Church, 431 Eldridge Road offers a Thursday Morning Bible Study For Men. This group is ongoing and uses a variety of studies throughout the year. The breakfast, coffee and donuts are free. Join us any time! Thursdays, 6:30-7:30 am in Wesley
SUGAR LAND AMERICAN LEGION American Legion Freeman Post 942 meets the fourth Thursday of every month at the Post facility, 311 Ulrich, Sugar Land, Texas, at 7:00 PM. All veterans are welcome. Post hall is available for rental for events. Call 713-5535370 if interested. GIVE A GIFT OF HOPE Give a Gift of Hope one-time or monthly. Your help provides access to therapies and services children with autism might otherwise go without. Please consider Hope For Three in your Estate, Planned, or Year-End Giving. Register now, or learn more about exciting events: www. hopeforthree.org/events
MISSOURI CITY AARP CHAPTER 3801 Meets the second Monday of every month at 11:30 a.m., at 2701 Cypress Point Dr., Missouri City Rec Center. Lunch, education, and entertainment. All seniors over 50 invited. For more information, call 713-859-5920 or 281-499-3345. BECOME A FOSTER GRANDPARENT Volunteers are needed to be a role model, mentor and friend to children with exceptional needs in the community. Training, mileage reimbursement, tax-free monthly stipend if eligible. Call today to help change the world, one child at a time in Rosenberg. For more information, call 281-344-3515.
family owned and operated LUNCH SPECIALS HOME MADE TAMALES & TORTILLAS MARGARITA’S TO-GO!
SOUTHWEST FREEWAY 281.240.3060 12821 LasHaciendasGrill.com
11555 West Airport, Meadows Place, Texas, 77477 • 281-277-3367
Daily SpecialS! Open 7 DayS a week