Bellaire - Meyerland - West University Edition | April 2021

BELLAIRE MEYERLAND WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION

VOLUME 2, ISSUE 12  APRIL 130, 2021

ONLINE AT

Taking stockof apandemic

IMPACTS

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A Y E A R O F R E C O V E R Y

TODO LIST

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Business, community leaders reect on local challenges, changes

Houston ISD superintendent search is underway

EDUCATION

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LOCAL VOTER GUIDE 2021

INSIDE

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Rice Village turned into a ghost town amid last year’s shutdowns. (Matt Dulin/Community Impact Newspaper)

A Y E A R O F N U M B E R S

A Y E A R O F T R A U M A

A Y E A R O F U N C E R T A I N T Y

“Change is dicult, and just as it was dicult to transition from work to home, the transition back will likely require patience and an oering of grace.” RENAE VANIA TOMCZAK, CEO, MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA OF GREATER HOUSTON

WEST U ELECTIONS

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COVID19 local data, from case counts to the vaccine rollout 13

How the city of Houston will avoid the eects of a devastating recession

Expert advises prioritizing mental health 15

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PLANT IT FORWARD

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and trust use.

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THIS ISSUE

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Owners John and Jennifer Garrett launched the rst edition of Community Impact Newspaper in 2005 with three full-time employees covering Round Rock and Pugerville, Texas. We have expanded our operations to include hundreds of employees, our own printing operation and over 30 hyperlocal editions across three states. Our circulation is over 2 million residential mailboxes, and it grows each month with new residents and developments.

HIGHLIGHTS FROMTHISMONTH

FROMKRISTINA: Looking back on the last year, it is safe to say there have been a lot of newsworthy events, but many headlines have been dominated by COVID-19 news, statistics, research and so much more. In this edition we take a look at our state and local data as well as the stories of making it through the year and dealing with the toll of it all. Thank you for being a loyal reader making an impact in your community. Kristina Shackelford, ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER

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FROMMATT: To try to capture all the year’s events in one print publication is impossible. However, we have brought a high-level look at the data as well as the on-the-ground experiences of how local businesses and leaders are coping. If there is one throughline, it is this: A community that comes together endures. Matt Dulin, SENIOR EDITOR

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BELLAIRE  MEYERLAND  WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION • APRIL 2021

IMPACTS

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for the skin, hair and nails with services including skin cancer treatments and Mohs surgery, acne treatments, cosmetic dermatology such as Botox and laser therapies, annual skin examinations and more. 713-360-1329. www.usdermatologypartners.com 8 British design and interiors retailer OKA will open its rst U.S. store in April at 3461 W. Alabama St., in Houston’s Upper Kirby area, with more locations planned in cities in the South and the East Coast, according to the company. The 9,000-square-foot space will be redesigned to oer multiple showcase rooms highlighting how the store’s global collaborations can oer fresh design inspiration, including a fully decorated London-inspired apartment, a resort-like villa and an English country greenhouse. www.oka.com ANNIVERSARIES 9 The Holocaust Museum Houston , at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, celebrated its 25th anniversary March 3. The museum oered free admission on its anniversa- ry as well as 25% o all HMH branded

MAP NOT TO SCALE N TM; © 2021 COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER CO. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

NOWOPEN 1 Studio Aesthetics IV Hydration and Wellness , at 5909 West Loop S., Ste. 580, Bellaire, opened March 1. The aes- thetics wellness lounge oers a medical spa experience with services including IV vitamin infusions, IV hydration, cosmetic injections, chemical peels and facials. 832-856-7489. www.studioaestheticstx.com COMING SOON 2 MyFitFoods , a meal prep company with breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options, marks a return to Houston when it opens at 3239 Southwest Freeway, Houston, in early April. MyFitFoods oers healthy, aordable meals cooked fresh daily through its local kitchens. Food can be picked up in-store, preordered online or delivered to select gyms. The business moved its headquarters to Austin in 2013 and closed its stores in 2017. www.mytfoods.com

3 CB2 , a sister brand of Crate and Bar- rel focusing on modern home furnishings, will open a new location this summer in Rice Village at 2414 University Blvd., Ste. 150. The store will oer outdoor furni- ture, decor and mirrors, lighting, rugs and bedding. The brand has almost 20 U.S. locations. www.cb2.com 4 The Lovesac Co. ’s third Houston location will be its rst in the Inner Loop. Slated for a spring opening, the furniture retailer’s 801-square-foot store in Rice Village at 2510 University Blvd., Houston, will oer high-quality furniture through Lovesac’s “Designed for Life” approach with furniture designed for durability. Customers will also be able to experience the retailer’s Sacs and demo Sactionals. www.lovesac.com 5 The owners of the acclaimed Israeli steakhouse Doris Metropolitan are bring- ing an elevated bakery to Rice Village. Badolina Bakery & Cafe , an expansion of Doris Metropolitan’s bread and pastry program, will open this spring at 5555

Morningside Drive, Houston, bringing a made-to-order bake lab with creations from executive pastry chef and partner Michal Michaeli. The bakery and cafe will feature avor proles from around the world, including Middle Eastern and Israeli baked goods and sweet and savory pastries along with specialty sourdoughs, croissants, babkas and custom roasted beans for its blended coee. www.badolinabakery.com 6 TriYoga Houston , a new yoga studio, is set to open in the Bellaire Triangle business center at 5427 Bellaire Blvd., Bellaire, on April 17. The studio will oer hot yoga, ow yoga, yin yoga and aero- 7 U.S. Dermatology Partners has set April 12 for opening its new location at 5420 West Loop S., Ste. 4500. The der- matology practice has 94 locations across eight states, including Texas, and oers comprehensive treatment and renement bic-style tness classes. www.triyogahouston.com

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gifts in the museum’s store. The rst 25 visitors also earned a free one-year director-level membership good for two people. The museum, which seeks to educate students and the public about the dangers of prejudice and hatred in society, rst opened its doors in March of 1996. 713-942-8000. www.hmh.org SCHOOL NOTES 10 Kolter Elementary School , at 9710 Runnymeade Drive, Houston, celebrat- ed its 60th anniversary with a virtual celebration March 5 showcasing the elementary school’s new building, which opened for classes last fall. The virtual event included remarks from students, teachers and administrators along with Houston ISD leadership. The event also capped o the completion of the school’s Grassroom, a multiuse outside space that

A lot. Even small steps can make a big difference. Start with a visit to a primary care doctor at a Harris Health community health center near you. As your partner in good health, we can help you lower your blood pressure, lose extra weight, prevent diabetes or even learn to cope with stress and anxiety. get healthier? What can I do to serves as part of a learning lab based around agriculture and local nature. The Grassroom came to fruition through construction that began last fall through many donations to the Kolter PTO and nancial support from the Westbury Unit- ed Methodist Church. The new Grassroom includes a pond, a coastal prairie loop, a vegetable garden, an orchard and a but- tery garden. www.houstonisd.org CLOSINGS 11 Mercader Antiques , at 5403-B Bis- sonnet St., Houston, which specialized in eclectic antiques along with reupholstery and shabby chic, closed in mid-March af- ter its owner, Martin Mercader, looked to move his business to antique shows. The store opened on Bissonnet in May 2019. www.facebook.com/MercaderAntiques

The Houston Zoo welcomed a new Grant’s zebra named Rosalita in March.

PHOTOS COURTESY HOUSTON ZOO

FEATURED IMPACT IN THE NEWS Houston Zoo , at 6200 Hermann Park Drive, Houston, has some new animals in the family. In mid-March, the zoo welcomed both a new baby Asian elephant, Nelson, as well as a nearly 1-year-old Grant’s zebra, Rosalita. Nelson comes from 10-year-old Asian elephant Tupelo and was born at 284 pounds, while Rosalita comes to the Houston Zoo from Brownsville. 713-533-6500. www.houstonzoo.org

A new baby elephant joined the zoo.

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BELLAIRE  MEYERLAND  WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION • APRIL 2021

TODO LIST

April events

COMPILED BY HUNTER MARROW

APRIL 14

PLANET NOW! CONVERSATION IN ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES RICE UNIVERSITY

THROUGH MAY 19

‘GEAR UP’ THE HEALTH MUSEUM

Rice University will host a webinar about environmental health. Joining the conversation are Heather Houser, an associate professor of English at The University of Texas, and Alexis Shotwell, a professor of sociology and anthropology at Carleton University. The Planet Now! Conversation in Environmental Studies series is organized by the Center for Environmental Studies. 6 p.m. Free. Registration required. 713-348-0000. www.rice.edu (Courtesy Rice University)

The Health Museum has on display a collection of historic and peculiar bicycles as well as stations that explore the science behind this mode of transportation. Visitors can learn about the history and evolution of bikes, the technology behind them and how they have aected culture. Free (members and children under 3 years old), $8 (seniors and children ages 3-12), $10 (adults). 1515 Hermann Drive, Houston. 713-521-1515. www.thehealthmuseum.org (Courtesy Health Museum)

23 BYOBARD Main Street Theater hosts BYOBard, virtual Shakespeare readings from local, professional actors celebrating the birthday of the venerated playwright, who was born in April 1564. Actors will virtually share personally selected monologues or passages. 7 p.m. Free. Registration required. The Bellaire Open Air market has made a return to Evelyn’s Park, at 4400 Bellaire Boulevard, Bellaire, allowing visitors the opportunity for an outdoor shopping experience, with goodies from local artisans and small businesses for the whole family. All vendors and guests are required to wear masks and social distance. 12-4 p.m. Free. 281-946-9372. www.evelynspark.org 28 HOUSTON STARTUP SHOWCASE Get a taste of what the future holds in Houston’s startup ecosystem when The Ion hosts an online startup showcase, allowing developing companies to receive feedback from experts and showcase their successes thus far. The event is a yearlong series of monthly pitch competitions and results in a nal winner www.mainstreettheater.com 25 BELLAIRE OPENAIR HTXMARKET to close the series in November. 6 p.m. Free. www.ionhouston.com 28 ‘THE RED BOOK’ PANEL An online webinar panel with Texas Southern University professors will delve into “The Red Book of Houston: An Early 20th Century Black Proclamation,” examining the importance of the book, the history surrounding its publication, and applications for the datasets provided in the book. The panel will also discuss the history of the Fourth Ward, African Americans in Houston City Council’s District B, and African American migration to Houston. 5:30 p.m. Free. Registration required. 713-348-0000. www.rice.edu

APRIL 07 PLAGUE &PERSPECTIVE SERIES The Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center oers a virtual program series about the plagues the Jewish people have experienced throughout history. University of Connecticut professor Susan Einbinder will explore the Black Death of 1348-50, as well as the Jewish responses to the plague across the European continent. 12:30 p.m. $8.50. 713-595-8163. www.erjcchouston.org 11 SUSTAINABLE FOOD GARDENING The Hana and Arthur Ginzbarg Nature Discovery Center hosts an interactive presentation about eco- friendly, sustainable gardening in the Greater Houston area. Participants will be able to learn information ranging from how to start a garden to tips and tricks for experienced gardeners that will take their patch to the next level. The program is oered in collaboration with the city of Bellaire’s April Planting Palooza, a citywide eort to renew and grow horticulture. Two timeslots: 10-11:30 a.m. or 2-3:30 p.m. Free. Registration required. Limited to 15 participants per session. 713-667-6550. www.naturediscoverycenter.org 14 BODY BARRE AT LEVY PARK Levy Park hosts an active in- person event for all tness levels with Body Barre, a full-body, low-impact workout that incorporates Pilates, yoga, core strengthening and ballet. Part of a weekly series every Wednesday. 6-7 p.m. Free. 3801 Eastside St., Houston. www.levyparkhouston.org 17 EARTHDAY CELEBRATION The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center hosts a celebratory event for all ages to mark Earth Day with informative booths, nature hikes, displays in the Discovery Room and Earth-friendly take-

home activities. Masks are required in the Nature Center building and encouraged when visiting outdoor booths. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free. 4501 Woodway Drive, Houston. 713-681-8433. www.houstonarboretum.org THROUGHAPRIL 18 STORIES OF SURVIVAL The Holocaust Museum Houston’s “Stories of Survival” exhibition showcases more than 60 personal artifacts from survivors of the Holocaust and other genocides. The exhibition explores the relationship between objects, their meaning to their original owner and their subsequent signicance. The exhibition is a project of the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center and photographer Jim Lommasson. Free (members and children up to 18 years old), $19 (nonmember adults), $15 (nonmember seniors). 713-942-8000 www.hmh.org 20 CONVERSATIONWITH AUTHOR SHARI LAPENA Murder By The Book hosts an online conversation for fans of Shari Lapena, the bestselling author of “The Couple Next Door,” “A Stranger in the House,” “An Unwanted Guest” and other thriller novels. Joining Lapena for the conversation is fellow author Will Dean, author of “Dark Pines.” The event will be broadcast live on the Murder By The Book YouTube and Facebook pages. 1 p.m. Free. 713-524-8597. www.murderbooks.com 20 BUTTERFLY GARDENSGREEN THUMB GARDENING SERIES The Texas AgriLife Extension Service, the Harris County Master Gardeners and the Harris County Public Library System host an online lecture for both beginner or experienced gardeners on buttery gardens. The lecture is part of the Green Thumb Gardening Series and is steamed via Facebook. Free. 11 a.m.-12 p.m. https://hcmga.tamu.edu

Springtime means bluebonnet festivals are blooming around Texas. Here is a roundup of road-trip destinations. APRIL 911 38th Annual Bluebonnet Festival 101 N. Pierce St., Burnet Price varies by event 512-756-4297 www.bluebonnetfestival.org Travel time from Houston: 3 hours, 20 minutes APRIL 1011 Chappell Hill Bluebonnet Festival 5070 Main St., Chappell Hill Check website for pricing www.chappellhillhistoricalsociety. com/bluebonnet-festival Travel time from Houston: 1 hour APRIL 1618 Ennis Bluebonnet Trails Festival 119 N. Dallas St., Ennis $5 for adults, 12 and under free 972-878-4748 www.bluebonnettrail.org Travel time from Houston: 3 hours, 20 minutes APRIL 1718 Fredericksburg Bluebonnet Festival 7905 Old San Antonio Road, Fredericksburg $20 general admission, $10 for children, 3 and under free www.thebestoftexas.org/ bluebonnet-festival Travel time from Houston: 4 hours WORTH THE TRIP

Find more or submit local events at communityimpact.com/event-calendar. Event organizers can submit local events online to be considered for the print edition. Submitting details for consideration does not guarantee publication.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES

COMPILED BY HUNTER MARROW

ONGOING PROJECTS

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Bellaire panel replacement In March, a contractor for the city of Bellaire was conducting maintenance work on Newcastle Drive, between Glenmont Drive and Bissonnet Street, addressing the deteriorated asphalt pavement. During the excavation of the sections of the road, the time and specific cost can depend on the shape of the asphalt. For example, a contractor may discover that the subgrade material responsible for bedding of the concrete is in poor shape, which would necessitate its full replacement. Timeline: March-June Cost: $188,000 Funding sources: city of Bellaire

South Rice, Chimney Rock bridges Contractors have begun at the South Rice Avenue and Chimney Rock Road bridges over Brays Bayou. The project calls for building two higher, longer and wider bridges—one for each roadway—between the existing bridges’ locations. Though there will be temporary lane closures, cars and pedestrians will continue to have ac- cess to both bridges with no detours. Once the new bridges are completed, the old bridges will be demolished. Timeline: February-winter 2021/early 2022 Cost: $11 million Funding sources: Army Corps of En- gineers, Harris County Flood Control District

I-69/Loop 610 interchange project Major ramp modifications are under- way. The I-69 northbound to Loop 610 northbound ramp will soon be closed for six months, and the I-69 southbound to Loop 610 northbound will soon be closed for two months as new ramps are constructed. Mean- while, the I-69 northbound frontage road between Loop 610 and Newcas- tle Drive should be completed this spring. The Fournace Place south- bound entrance ramp onto Loop 610 is also expected to reopen this spring. Timeline: fall 2017-early 2024 Cost: $259 million Funding source: TxDOT

Buffalo Speedway water line A multiyear construction project targeting drainage improvements and a complete road surface replacement of Buffalo Speedway through West University Place officially started on March 23 for its first phase. Residents can expect to see SER Construction Partners mobilizing equipment in April. In the first of four construction phases, SER will be replacing the wa- ter line along that route with minimal disruption to pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Timeline: March-May (Phase 1) Cost: $32.56 million (total project) Funding sources : city of West Uni- versity Place, Texas Department of Transportation, federal grants

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BELLAIRE - MEYERLAND - WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION • APRIL 2021

PUBLIC SAFETY Mayor promotes Troy Finner to fill sudden police chief vacancy

The Finner file

“When we talk in terms of trust and building relationships ... it’s just as important in the criminal justice arena, and it’s time everybody takes some responsibility,” Finner said. “It’s time to stop throwing stones and sit down with each other.” Addressing recommendations from the Mayor’s Police Reform Task Force, which the city has fallen behind in implementing under the task force’s suggested timeline, Finner said he and Turner are committed to putting most of the proposals in place. “We agreed to roll them out, and the mayor is going to call us and order us to roll them out, so we should be seeing something really, really soon here,” Finner said. When Finner’s appointment was made, Brown said she hoped it repre- sented a change in relations between HPD and advocacy groups. “We’re alongside them. We’re pounding pavement to try to ensure that justice is certain, people are safe and that our community is not being terrorized by the people who are supposedly there to help them,” she said. Hometown: Houston Former position: executive assistant chief, Houston Police Department Experience: 31 years in the Houston Police Department Chief’s duties: • Oversees 6,400 employees, including 5,300 classified (patrol officers, investigators, etc.), 100 cadets and 1,000 civilian (support staff) • Manages $900 million budget SOURCE: CITY OF HOUSTON/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

BY EMMA WHALEN

He said he appreciated Turner looking within the department for Acevedo’s replacement and echoed Turner’s remarks. “If you are Caucasian, Black, whatever you are, you have your own life experiences. People are different, and I don’t care if it’s their politics or what, you give validation to a person’s experiences,” Finner said. The department shakeup comes alongside a rise in the city’s homicide rate, surpassing 400 murders in 2020. Although Turner said Acevedo’s announcement was a surprise, he said with two years left in his final term, he knew there was a possibility Acevedo would leave. “In this business, I have hired people from other cities, and I’m sure it was a surprise to those mayors,” Turner said. “It happens all the time, and what I will say to people is that everybody is here for a particular season, and no one is here forever.” At a farewell press conference March 16, Acevedo said he chose to move to Miami because Mayor Fran- cis Suarez personally recruited him and because it is where his family first arrived from Cuba. Acevedo also downplayed his polit- ical future, saying he has no intention of running for office in Texas and that he considers his views ill suited for both Democrats and Republicans. He added he turned down a position in President Joe Biden’s administration and considered running for L.A. County sheriff but opted to continue with what he knows best.

Troy Finner, executive assistant chief of the Houston Police Depart- ment, is the city’s new chief of police. “My goal was to find someone who was fully capable of leading this department from Day 1 who knows the city, its neighborhoods and its people and someone who would work every single day to gain and maintain the trust of our diverse community,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said. The appointment, announced March 18, came days after news of former Chief Art Acevedo’s departure was made public, raising concerns among some criminal justice reform advocates such as Houston Justice organizer Karla Brown. “When you think about the magnitude of this decision, it would be best to at least give an opportunity for the community to provide input,” Brown said. Brown added, however, that the group supports the choice. “Just before the winter storm, he was riding around checking on homes ... and he was out canvassing the homeless encampments,” she said. “I had never seen anyone at his level out there working and making sure people got the resources they need.” Fresh start Finner has served in the Houston Police Department since 1990, working in several divisions and ultimately overseeing field support operations and 15 patrol divisions.

Troy Finner

“I love cops; I love being a cop, and I love being on patrol,” he said. Different approach Acevedo also used his farewell address to question bail reform efforts in Harris County, which he attributed to rising homicide rates. In 2017, Harris County began requiring courts to release most misdemeanor defen- dants prior to trial. Those include drug possession, trespassing, theft and driving while intoxicated. “No matter how good the leadership cadre is, you cannot have a criminal justice system that absolutely allows violent criminals to go in one door and out the other,” Acevedo said. A court-ordered independent study, however, found the amount of misdemeanor defendants who commit felonies within a year of getting released, about 13%, remained stable in the two years leading up to the county’s bail reform efforts and the two years following. The study has been issued in two installments so far, and further analysis is ongoing. Finner’s tone differed when speak- ing about the justice system.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

EDUCATION BRIEFS

News from Houston ISD

COMPILED BY MATT DULIN

Texas Supreme Court upholds injunction in takeover case

HOUSTON ISD The Texas Supreme Court has allowed an injunction to remain in place blocking the Texas Education Agency from implementing a takeover of the Houston ISD board of trustees. The 8-1 ruling March 19 represents a setback for the

agency, but the court battle is not over. “While this very narrow technical ruling further delays action that will help the 200,000-plus students of HISD, we agree with Chief Justice Hecht, who well captured in his dissenting opinion the current reality:

‘This case has been on appeal for more than a year, with the wellbeing of school children in limbo,’” the TEA said in statement. In another pending case, judges could consider other merits of the takeover case. Attorney General Ken Paxton led a request for a Supreme

Court review in February seeking a ruling in favor of the TEA to allow it to resume its takeover action. In an appeals court ruling in December, however, HISD was found to have “a prob- able right to the relief.” But since that case was limited to the appropriateness of an

injunction, it did not speci- cally rule on the merits. The TEA originally ordered the takeover in November 2019, citing a state law requiring intervention when a campus fails to meet state academic standards for more than ve years, as well as other infractions.

Innovation plan set for board of trustees vote

District working to hire a superintendent by June HOUSTON ISD The search for a new leader for the state’s largest school district James Guerra told trustees in February. The district’s board of

March 25, a key step prior to the trustee vote. The plan itself was developed through a sepa- rate District of Innovation Committee with one repre- sentative for each trustee district and six HISD sta members, and more than 80 other stakeholders were consulted during focus group sessions as well. “For such a large district, I think we’ve had pretty representative and really strong feedback in the process,” said August Hamilton, a manager in the strategy and innovation oce. The trustees have the option to vote the plan down or strike a section from approval but oth- erwise cannot change the plan as it is written, Hamilton said. Two other key plan provisions call for remov- ing the requirement for a teacher certication for career and technical education positions and allowing exibility on the attendance rule that requires the physical presence of students for 90% of class time to earn credit. The plan states this exibility could allow students to earn credit based on “mastery of skills as opposed to the amount of seat time.” If approved, the plan could remain in place through 2026-27.

HOUSTON ISD A monthslong process

assessments. Statewide, 890 districts are using this policy exemption. “Should the board vote for the District of Innovation status in April, and if it’s determined that it’s in the best interest of students to start earlier in the school year, the earliest that we would be able to take a revised calendar to the board would be in May,” Chief Strategy and Innova- tion Ocer Rick Cruz said. The District Advisory Committee, a group com- posed of teachers, parents and community members, gave the plan its approval

to develop a District of Innovation plan could soon come to fruition with a board of trustees vote expected in April or May, which could have implica- tions on the 2021-22 school calendar. In addition to two other measures, the innovation plan calls for allowing the school district to begin classes before the state’s ocial start date, the fourth Monday in August. By starting earlier, propo- nents said, students can get more class time prior to the state-mandated

began in mid-March with gathering community feed- back on what the search rm JG Consulting should look for in the high-prole hire. “My goal is to identify the best superintendent to serve the students of Houston ISD,” JG Consulting CEO Search timeline JG Consulting group has been charged with helping identify a sole nalist by the end of May. March 1-26: Stakeholder and public input is gathered. April 8: Firm presents community ndings and leadership prole to trustees for approval. April 9-30: Applications are accepted. May 9: Prescreened applicant packages are presented to trustees. May 13-14: First round of interviews is held. May 20-21: Final round of interviews is held. May 24: Sole nalist is named. June 17: New superintendent takes oce. SOURCE: HOUSTON ISDCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

trustees is hoping to name a sole nalist by the end of May. Interim Superin- tendent Grenita Lathan is stepping down at the end of the school year to take a new position in Springeld, Missouri. The board in November declined to name Lathan the permanent super- intendent, opting instead to resume a national search that had been halted by the Texas Education Agency in 2019. A series of 20 public Zoom and Microsoft Teams meetings were held March 22-26. Those sessions, along with a community survey, will inform the creation of a leadership prole that will guide recruiting eorts. From there, the ocial job posting will be published, applications will be vetted and a selection of candidates will be interviewed by the board of trustees.

The draft District of Innovation plan oers additional guidance on how the proposed policy exemptions could be implemented. Exemptions examined

Teacher certication Exemption: allow career and technical teachers without certication Guidance: ensure sta and parents are given sucient notice of calendar changes Start date Exemption: allow school year to start before fourth Monday in August

90%attendance rule Exemption: allow students to earn credit with reduced attendance Guidance: limit exception to middle and high school students and track usage

MEETINGS WE COVER

The Houston ISD board of education will next meet at 5 p.m. April 8. Meetings are streamed at www.houstonisd.org.

Guidance: oer mandatory training, require certication by fth year of service

SOURCE: HOUSTON ISDCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

9

BELLAIRE  MEYERLAND  WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION • APRIL 2021

CITY& COUNTY

News from city of Houston, Bellaire

DATE TOKNOW APRIL 5 Bellaire City Council will have a public hearing on the North Bellaire Special Development District at 4800 Fournace Place. The district would allow for the build-out of a mixed-use project. Bellaire City Council meets the first and third Mondays of each month at 7 p.m. at 7008 S. Rice Ave., Bellaire. Meetings are streamed at www.bellairetx.gov. West University Place City Council meets the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 6:30 p.m. at 3800 University Blvd., Houston. Meetings are available via teleconference. Find details at www.westutx.gov. Houston City Council meets weekly at 1:30 p.m. Tuesdays for public comment and 9 a.m. Wednesdays for regular business at 901 Bagby St., Houston. Meetings are streamed at www.houstontx.gov/htv. Harris County Commissioners Court will meet at 10 a.m. April 13. Live meeting video is available at www.harriscountytx.gov. MEETINGSWE COVER

Public parks begin phased reopening

Houston City Council OKsmeasure to prevent water bill spikes caused byWinter StormUri

BY EMMA WHALEN

BY EMMA WHALEN HOUSTON About 1 in 4 households experienced a leak or disruption of water service during February’s Winter Storm Uri, Houston Public Works reported. Houston City Council approved a measure March 10 to prevent a spike in water bills frommeters registering and overcharging residents for leaking water. A previous ordinance in place cov- ered 50% of a bill increase related to leaks but was expanded to fully cover leak-related costs in February. “The current ordinance is insuffi- cient in addressing the magnitude and impact of the winter storm,” said Erik Dunn, Houston Public Works assistant director. For residents in single-family homes, all water bills will be adjusted to either the same amount they paid in the previous month or the average amount they paid for the 12 months preceding the storm. The department

HOME THIS SUMMER? GET OUTSIDE & PLAY! between Feb. 15 and March 15. Public works will continue to provide water for those behind on bills rather than disconnecting service. Amoratorium on service disconnections began in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. will bill residents the lesser of the two amounts, Dunn told council. For apartment complexes and multifamily buildings, property managers will need to apply for an adjusted bill and submit an insur- ance claim or report to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to document proof of damage. The adjustment will follow the same calculations as the single-family adjustment, officials said. Any water customers who received a water bill affected by the storm before the ordinance was passed will get a credit toward their next bill, Mayor Sylvester Turner said. Late fees were also suspended

HOUSTON City-operated parks began allowing sports, playground use and pavilion rentals, among other activities, in March. Until further notice, 40 community centers, all swimming pools, the North Wayside Sports Center and the Lake HoustonWilderness Park’s dining hall, group camping sites and group lodges remain closed. The Metropolitan Multi-Service Center will also remain closed except for outdoor activities.

WHAT’S OPEN?

• Baseball and softball fields • Other sports fields • Playgrounds • Outdoor exercise stations • Tennis courts for tournaments

• Small picnic

pavilion rentals

• Small

bootcamps • Basketball

courts (rims re- installed) • Youth and adult sports leagues

SOURCE: CITY OF HOUSTON/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

VOTERGUIDE

Get to know the candidates running in the local election

COMPILED BY HUNTER MARROW

S A M P L E B A L L O T

*Incumbent

D A T E S T O K N O W April 19 First day of early voting April 20 Last day to apply for ballot by mail (received, not postmarked)

John Montgomery Sam Parikh Mardi Turner Shannon Carroll Lauri Lankford* Ed Sobash*

WEST UNIVERSITY PLACE MAYOR

WEST UNIVERSITY PLACE CITY COUNCIL

April 27 Last day of early voting May 1 Election day May 1 Last day to receive ballot by mail (unless late- arriving deadline applies)

Susan Sample Kevin Trautner

Melanie Bell Richard Beck John P. Barnes*

THE MAYOR WILL BE SELECTED BASED ON WHO RECEIVES THE GREATEST NUMBER OF VOTES. FOR THE CITY COUNCIL, THE TOP FOUR VOTEGETTERS WILL BE ELECTED AS COUNCIL MEMBERS. THE CITY WILL NOT HOLD A RUNOFF ELECTION.

West University Placemayor

Occupation: Attorney Relevant experience: Mayor Pro Tem/City Council Member June 2019-Present KEVIN TRAUTNER

SUSAN SAMPLE

Street and drainage improvements, securi- ty, and protect and enhance the residential quality of life What would be your top priorities if elected?

(1) Quality of life-Improve parks, keep our tree- lined streets, maintain high-quality recreation- al facilities for our families, and senior services; (2) improve communications with residents. (3) Fiscal responsibility-to ensure the city is spending eectively; (4) Transparency in government and responsiveness. What would be your top priorities if elected?

Occupation: Attorney Relevant experience: Friends of West U Parks Board of Directors, West University City Council Member, West University Mayor Pro Tem, West University Mayor

West U needs collaborative leadership to address important projects like enhancing security and drainage while being a good steward of taxpayers’ dollars. The experience I have as mayor pro tem and helping guide West U through the pandemic, along with my business and legal background, demonstrate I am the right person at the right time to lead as mayor. Having raised my children with my wife in West U over the last 25 years, I am passionate about serving our city and strengthening its exceptional quality of life. Why are you running for oce?

West University was named the best places to live in America by USA Today during my last term as mayor. This came as no surprise to our residents. I want to maintain the qualities that make our city special and restore family-friendly policies that are important to residents. I also want to restore transparency in government and I look forward to working to restore government responsiveness that residents have come to expect. Why are you running for oce?

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BELLAIRE  MEYERLAND  WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION • APRIL 2021

NONPROFIT

BY HUNTER MARROW

Food & farms Plant It Forward has farms across four locations inside Houston city limits. Produce is sold wholesale, through a Farm Share program and during weekly farmers markets.

3

ALABAMA ST.

4

1 Fondren: Owned by Braeswood Assembly of God, this location, which features four farms on 3 acres, was the organization’s rst urban farm. 2 Westbury: Three urban farms can be found on this 2-acre plot, which is located alongside the Westbury Community Garden. 3 Montrose: Owned by the University of St. Thomas, this half-acre site hosts one urban farm. 4 Blossom Heights: This half- acre site is hosted by the Blossom Heights Child Development Center.

610

59

1

288

90

2

Plant It Forward’s urban farms oer jobs, training and housing to refugees. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)

N

Plant It Forward Urban farming organization overcomes disaster as it marks a decade W ith temperatures down to 13 degrees amid the February winter it’s not nearly as bad as what we’re hearing coming out of the [Rio

A key source of revenue is its Farm Share membership program.

markets, but most important to their rebound, according to Vallette, is the Farm Share program, a com- munity-supported model in which customers pay for a certain number of weeks of produce—in good times and in bad. This model represents a majority of sales and pays the farmers’ salaries. In total, Farm Share goes to over 20 neighborhood pickup locations and delivers to over 30 ZIP codes every week. “It’s incredible to see the gener- osity of people and that they are OK with paying for nothing so long as they know their farmer is being compensated and is working as hard as they can to get the farms back up to production,” Vallette said.

Grande] Valley and places like that,” Plant It Forward President Liz Val- lette said. “To be honest, I thought we would lose more.” Plant It Forward managed to save some of its carrots along with a portion of its tender greens, even without greenhouses. The key to that was extensive preparation, covering some crops with frost cloth and harvesting others ahead of time. In addition, more donations have come in to help cover what was lost and to allow the nonprot to apply for grants to help the farmers buy new seeds and plants. The farms in the network sell produce at several local farmers

storm—the coldest Houston has experienced since 1989—farms in and around the area were severely aected. That includes a network of independent urban farms run by the nonprot Plant It Forward, which works with Catholic Charities’ refugee resettlement oce and Urban Harvest to provide refugees with agricultural backgrounds with housing and training. Plant It Forward, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary in April, lost about 75% of its crops in the freeze. “It was pretty devastating, but

The farms oer a variety of seasonal produce, including okra.

Plant It Forward 4030 Willowbend Blvd., Houston 713-432-0754 https://plantitforward.farm

BELLFORT AVE.

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12

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

INSIDE INFORMATION

COVID- 19 ONE YEAR LATER

COUNTING & COUNTERING A VIRUS

BELLAIRE-MEYERLAND-WEST UNIVERSITY PLACE CASES & VACCINES

Residents with cases

Deaths

Cases

59

77005

5* 15 8 14

3.6% 5% 7.7% 5.9% 4.1%

1,024 1,457 843 2,007 793 6,124

77005 77025 77030 77096 77401 Total

77401

77030

610

COMPILED BY MATT DULIN

77025

As the pandemic unfolded, ocials began using data to monitor its eects and guide decisions. Now, the statistic to know is the vaccination rate.

<5* 37+

77096

288

90

5%

N

SOURCES: TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF STATE HEALTH SERVICES, TEXAS MEDICAL CENTER, UNITED WAY OF GREATER HOUSTON, SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATIONCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

*ZIP CODES WITH FEWER THAN FIVE DEATHS ARE NOT REPORTED BECAUSE OF PRIVACY CONCERNS.

Vaccines administered People fully vaccinated

HARRIS COUNTY CASES PER DAY

People vaccinated with at least one dose Population

After a rst wave in the summer, cases dipped in October before a winter surge that saw the virus spreading rapidly.

77005 77025 77030* 77096 77401

Dec. 25: 6,264

Jan. 12: 5,810

6K

0

5K

10K

15K

20K

25K

30K

35K

4K

*NUMBER IS GREATER THAN POPULATION BECAUSE NONRESIDENTS ARE RECEIVING VACCINES IN THIS ZIP CODE. DATA AS OF MARCH 15.

Allocated doses

With at least 1 dose

Fully vaccinated

HARRIS COUNTY

County and state breakdown

1.63 million

819,930

405,495

2K

TEXAS

12.43 million 5.55 million

2.9 million

0

TEXAS VACCINE ROLLOUT BY COUNTY

2020

2021

Percentage of age 16+ population fully vaccinated 0% 100%

The winter surge led to a second surge in deaths, but relative to total cases, deaths were comparable to the summer wave. HARRIS COUNTY DEATHS PER DAY

Montgomery: 19.6%

Liberty: 10.2%

Waller: 14.2%

60

July 23: 53

Harris: 18.6%

Jan. 10: 51 Jan. 13: 51

Galveston: 28.2% Chambers: 16.7%

Fort Bend:

18.6% Brazoria: 23.8%

40

LOCAL NUMBERS TO KNOW

Total devices purchased by Houston ISD 96,000

58,404 Total COVID19 patients treated in Texas Medical Center-aliated hospitals

20

Total 211 calls for help with food, utilities or housing 726,816

Pounds of food distributed by the Houston Food Bank 272million

89% have been successfully discharged.

0

Businesses/nonprof- its receiving Paycheck Protection Program loans in the Bellaire-Meyer- land-West University area 3,035

Relief distributed through the Greater Houston Communi- ty Foundation through October $17.77M

2020

2021

13

BELLAIRE  MEYERLAND  WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION • APRIL 2021

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