Two Neighborhood Families Approach to Disaster Relief by Michael Graves

It's been heartening to see communities across the city rise up to help those in need. Here's just one little example, copied from a post on Next Door.

"Hey neighbors! The Craigs and the McConns are having a lemonade and brownie stand this afternoon starting at 2:30. We'll be in front of the Craigs' house at 943 Omar. All proceeds will go to benefit victims of Hurricane Harvey. Please stop by, say hi and get some treats. See you soon!"

Pictured above (left-to-right) are; Mila Craig, Arianna Espana, Hollis McConn & Kellen McConn.

According to neighbor Beth Allen-Brock,"The brownies were delicious!"

Everyone helps in their own way, and every little bit helps.

Post-Harvey: FEMA Guidance on Rumors & Scams by Michael Graves

It was bound to happen. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey there have come to be some rumors and even outright scams with respect to various issues facing people impacted by the storm. Fortunately, FEMA has assembled a web page with some great guidance on these issues.

Here are a couple of key takeaways from this guidance:

Flood Insurance - September 1 Deadline

Rumor: There are reports individuals must file a flood insurance claim before Friday, September 1 because a new Texas law goes into effect that day and all claims filed after Sept. 1 would be negatively impacted.

This rumor is FALSE. (August 30)

Texas State “House Bill 1774,” passed by the 85th Texas Legislature, does not affect flood insurance policies or claims. Flood insurance is provided through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which was created by Congress through the passage of the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968. The NFIP is a federal program subject to federal law, so this new Texas state law will have no impact on NFIP policyholders.

Flood Insurance Premiums - Robo-Calls

Rumor: There are reports Texas residents are being told (via robo-call) their flood premiums are past due and in order to have coverage for Hurricane Harvey they need to submit a payment immediately to a website.

This rumor is FALSE. (August 30)

Insurance companies and agents selling flood insurance policies do not use this process to communicate with customers about their flood insurance policies.  In fact, if your payment is past due, your insurance company will send you several pieces of mail 90, 60, and 30 days before the policy expires.

If you receive a call regarding your flood insurance policy:

Hang up the phone. Don't press 1 to speak to a live operator or any other key to take your number off the list. Just hang up.

Then contact your insurance agent or insurance company immediately to verify the information. Or call 1-800-638-6620 if you have a policy with NFIP Direct

Garden Enthusiasts Hosted by Woodland Heights Naturalist by Michael Graves

Members of the Heights Garden Club were guests on July 8 for a garden tour at the home of Carolyn and Richard Hall on Bayland. Richard is a known in Houston and along the Gulf Coast as an artist, author, naturalist and conservationist. He and Carolyn are enthusiastic “urban farmers.”

During their visit, guests were able to experience the “farm” while gaining hands-on learning.

Following are some of the practical lessons and demonstrations Richard shared.

  1. For optimum result, plant those species known thrive in the Gulf Coast climate. For example, the Halls have a Mexican sabal palm in their yard. “This tree is native to the Rio Grande Valley, so it thrives in Houston,” Richard said.
  2. To build soil for your garden, practice the art of composting. Richard uses everything except animal material for composting. “Animal material is a no-no for composting,” he said.  But grass clippings are excellent. Richard picks up bags of freshly mowed grass left by landscapers at large buildings after a mowing session. The grass is bagged and waiting for pickup, he explained, adding  “Sometimes the landscapers help me load it.” To prevent the grass clippings from souring, you should first spread the material out and let it dry. Regularly turn the organic material in your compost pile as you add material. Finally, you sift the composted material.  What comes out of the bottom of the sifter is excellent soil. During this point in the tour, Richard demonstrated how he sifts. The visiting gardeners were invited to put their hands into the newly sifted soil.
  3. To get fresh eggs, use poultry science. Each hen in the Halls’ coop has her own personality. Richard and Carolyn know each hen by name.
  4. Conserve water by collecting condensate to water plants. A typical central a/c system pulls about a barrel of water an hour out of the air. Instead of that resource being wasted, the Halls use the water from their a/c to water their gardens. One of their barrels, which has a capacity of 25 gallons, fills up twice a day.

- Rosie Walker, Woodland Heights resident since 1975.

About the Heights Garden Club

According to its website, “The purpose of the Heights Garden Club is to nurture an active gardening community in the greater Heights area of Houston, to share the love and knowledge of gardening in the peculiarities of our Gulf Coast climate, and to restore, improve, and protect our neighborhood’s environment through educational programs, demonstration gardens, and by promoting the incorporation of organic practices, native plants and edibles into the urban landscape. And have fun doing it.” For more information, visit http://www.heightsgardenclub.com.

About Richard Hall

Richard Hall is a resident artist at The Silos at Sawyer Yards, across I-10 from Woodland Heights. To learn more about his work and background, visit http://www.thesilosonsawyer.com. Then scroll down to #134 (the location of his studio).

Yard-of-the-Month: 402 Euclid by Michael Graves

Yard of the month goes to Mary and Peter at 402 Euclid at the corner of Florence.  Their yard is a beautiful blend of old and new with a mature Yaupon Holly with old fashioned Aspidistra underneath, several blooming crepe myrtle trees, holly ferns, and some great climbing fig ivy.  The wisteria on the front fence is in vibrant bloom which stands out beautifully next to the foliage of their cypress tree.  Looking forward to going back in the fall when the maple tree turns colors along with the red fruit of the nandina.

Central City Co-op: An Alternative Shopping Experience by Michael Graves

I get overwhelmed with the number of choices there are these days for eating healthy. Prepared meals in the supermarket, delivery services of prepped ingredients, personal shoppers who will go by your list and either have it ready for pickup or deliver it to the house…  So many options!  But we keep returning to an old favorite each Wednesday afternoon- Central City Co-op- in their current home inside Kindred Church in Montrose at 2515 Waugh Drive.

Order pick up is available currently at 6 different locations each Wednesday, including EQ Coffee on Heights Boulevard and Heights of Health on Frazier.  Travis Elementary parents can also pick up in the Community Room during the school year.  This gives Woodland Heights households a lot of options.  Our family still prefers to go to the Waugh storefront, where the kids can learn from the volunteers and maybe meet a farmer, and the adults can ask about recipes or share stories with old and new friends. 

Central City began in Houston in 2001 when a group of friends, led by local vegan food pioneer Pat Greer, decided to order boxes of organic produce from a local distributor and a small farm in Wharton (Gundermann Farms), dividing up the bounty on the front porch of Pat’s house.  

One of the best things for our own family has been the flexibility of the Co-op.  For our annual membership fee of $60 (which you can earn in sweat equity by volunteering), we have access to the weekly share of farm produce in 3 different sizes, plus 2 different sizes of fruit share.  The “share” is the portion of the weekly buy that Co-op staff put together each week.  They work with 12 different local farms plus a supplier of national organic produce.  Each week, they select for seasonality and freshness.  Sometimes that means a lot of eggplant and greens, but the national supplier is a great source of things that don’t tolerate July in Texas.  

Because the shares come in different sizes and we are not obligated to purchase every week, it’s easy to tailor our purchase to our family’s needs.  More fruit for lunchboxes for school and work when we need them, and a smaller share when we travel or know we will eat out a lot.
In recent years, the Co-op has added locally sourced meats, farm eggs and cheeses from the Houston Dairymaids.  Seasonally, they also have fresh bread baked by the volunteers at Kindred Church.  Co-op volunteers also make jams from unsold fruit.  Jars of fig, muscadine grape, citrus and strawberry come and go with the seasons.  Volunteers also staff the co-op.  I served on the board and worked in operations for many years, though now I serve primarily as a jam making volunteer.

Being members of Central City Co-op has provided our family with food and friendship for 15 years.  Our children have learned to eat a wide variety of vegetables, and appreciate freshness and seasonality.  I have learned to cook things I had never seen before, and learned so much about our local farmers and food entrepreneurs.  We encourage you to visit the co-op either in person on Wednesdays from 9 to 6 at 2515 Waugh street inside the fellowship hall at Kindred Church, or any time online at www.centralcityco-op.com

- Tiffany Tyler, Woodland Heights resident since 1997

METRONext Community Open House Thursday, August 17, 2017 by Michael Graves

METRO will be hosting a METRONext Community Open House meeting on Thursday, August 17, 2017 at Montie Beach Community Center from 6:00PM – 8:00PM. We want to hear from you!

A Critical Plan for a Changing Region

Population in the greater Houston region will increase from 6 million today to nearly 10 million in the next 20 years. That raises a lot of questions about how we will live our lives and get to places we need to go. METRO wants to plan now for a transportation system that meets the needs of our continually evolving, dynamic and diverse region.

As we embark on the creation of METRONext, the new regional transit plan, we want to know what kind of transit system would best meet the needs of you and your family. Whether you currently use public transportation or not, we want to work with you to find solutions that best serve residents, communities, businesses and visitors. Imagine the future with METRONext.

Opera invites one and all to visit them at Lambert Hall on August 19th by Michael Graves

Opera in the Heights will host its first Open House in historic Lambert on August 19th from 9:00 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. Lambert Hall is located at Heights Blvd. at 17th Street.

It will also include free live opera performances every 20 minutes, plus a chance to meet Opera in the Heights singers.

The event is free to the public. The Open House will be a chance to experience firsthand the behind-the-scenes magic of Opera in the Heights.

Highlights for the event include giveaways, popcorn, face-painting, social media contest, opera costume dress-up station and photo op, an opera coloring sheet station, as well as breakfast bites from neighborhood eateries. Opera subscriptions and ticket discounts can be purchased during the event. For more information, visit http://www.operaintheheights.org/open-house-2017.

Lambert Hall was formerly the sanctuary for Heights Christian Church, now located on northern portion of block of Heights Blvd. between 17th and 18th Streets. 

Greater Heights Super Neighborhood Council Meeting, July 31st by Michael Graves

Super Neighborhoods are a way for the City to rationalize the way council interacts with the myriad of civic and neighborhood associations across the city. Woodland Heights Civic Association participates in the Greater Heights Super Neighborhood Council, aka Super Neighborhood 15.

GHSNC15 is hosting a public meeting Monday, July 31st, 6:30pm at the Historic Heights Fire Station, 107 W 12th St, Houston, TX 77008.

WHCA General Meeting - July 11, 2017 at 7:00 p.m at Lucky's Upstairs by Michael Graves

It’s summertime, and school is out! 

As a benefit to our membership and the Woodland Heights community, the Woodland Heights Civic Association is hosting the July General Meeting at Lucky’s, located at 2520 Houston Ave, just at the edge of Woodland Park.

In addition to hearing updates from our neighbors and the board, we will sample some of the many appetizers from Lucky’s new and very much improved menu! And don’t worry about getting thirsty, nonalcoholic beverages also will be provided.

We look forward to seeing you there!

WHCA 4th of July Festivities by Michael Graves

Hey Neighbors!  Please come join our community celebration of American Independence at the Norhill Esplanade on the 4th of July.  Kids can decorate their bikes to join in the parade, and families can stick around afterward to enjoy music, refreshments, bounce houses and more.  Festivities are open to all and begin at 9 AM with the parade, and will continue until noon.  Can't wait to see you there!

Yard of the Month: 601 Woodland by Michael Graves

Although Stacie Cokinos and Pam Redford have only owned 601 Woodland for a year, they have completely transformed their garden while renovating their 1930's bungalow.  

Go by and peek over the conversation height white picket fence and be amazed by the pops of color, the butterfly friendly plants, and the huge old cedar tree that they painstakingly landscaped around without disturbing it.  It's a beautiful space with 2 delightful people that have made our neighborhood even better.

Carla Reed
WHCA VP Beautification

Birthday bash on Bayland: 101 years ago by Michael Graves

Young Zolene Matzinger was feted at a party on her sixth birthday at her family’s home: 411 Bayland Avenue in Woodland Heights. The date was September 25, 1916. What a party it was: dozens of kids (several of them her cousins), as well as clowns and a calliope

The honoree is the girl seated on the banister at the far right of the picture (in front of the porch column).

Among Zolene’s party guests were her “Foley cousins,” Carrie Mae Foley and James Foley. Their father was founder of Foley Bros., later to be known as the Foley’s department store chain. Carrie Mae Foley is the fourth child from the left on the second row. James Foley is the second boy from the right on the second row.

The party for his cousin made such an impression on one little boy, Francis Wead (the last little boy on the right, top row), that he still talked about the event when he grew up and became a father. Each child who attended the party was later sent a copy of the group picture. Francis Wead held on to the image the rest of his life.

This image and story shared is shared with WHCA, courtesy of Jimmy Wead, son of Francis Wead. The site of the party, the house at 411 Bayland, is still standing and in good shape.

- Rosie Walker

NTMP Plan Moves Forward with Temporary Speed Cushions by Michael Graves

Dear neighbors,

I wanted to inform you about the installation of the speed cushions you may have seen going in around the neighborhood. The Woodland Heights Civic Association board remains neutral about traffic calming, but it is important for us to convey correct information to the community.

Today I spoke to Khang Nguyen at the City of Houston Public Works & Engineering (PWE) department. He's given me the definitive information regarding the speed cushions. What follows is a step-by-step explanation of what is happening:

  1. Seventeen temporary asphalt speed cushions are being installed: one on Michaux, four on Watson, three on Beauchamp, two on Euclid, two on Bayland, one on Merrill, and four on Pecore.
  2. Yes, these are temporary speed cushions. They can be pulled up at any point and the street repaired.
  3. The streets are being milled in order to accept the speed cushions. Without milling, the asphalt can come loose. So grooves are milled into the streets.
  4. Because our streets are primarily asphalt, PWE determined that asphalt was better than rubber, which can sometimes come loose on an asphalt base (rubber is bolted, whereas asphalt adheres through melting.)
  5. Also, rubber can come loose with high volume traffic. In some locations, PWE measured high use and felt asphalt was best.
  6. Once milling is done, asphalt cushion installation will start right away, possibly even today. They will finish a few streets each day, so it may be finished by mid-next week.
  7. Once the speed cushions are installed, PWE will paint striping on them for visibility.
  8. After roughly 90 days (September/October), PWE will complete a second traffic study assessing the effectiveness of the cushions.
  9. The traffic study will examine three things: overall speed, enhanced or reduced traffic volume, and traffic shifting to other streets.
  10. Once the study is complete, PWE will hold a public hearing and collect comments again. This will be around November/December.
  11. At that point, the neighborhood could (a) accept all of the new speed cushions, (b) ask than some be removed but others remain, or (c) reject all of the new speed cushions.
  12. Based on those comments, they will then take the study to the City Council for final approval. If the council agrees that the speed cushions are working, they become permanent.
  13. If, however, the community or council rejects the speed cushions, they will be removed and the roads patched to their prior state.

That's the entire process, as detailed by Khang Nguyen at PWE.

Matt Johnson
WHCA VP Infrastructure

WHCA Constable Patrol Update: March-May 2017 by Michael Graves

Subscriber Stats

We have a little more than 350 subscribers and have received some generous additional donations from our neighbors, totaling about $119k. We have also received a $10k contribution from Greystar and, as I mentioned before, we had about $10k in surplus from the prior year. That brings us to about $139k. Our goal for two-deputy shifts is $153k, so we are getting closer but are not there yet. As it stands, we are a little more than one month short, or about 45 more subscribers. We would need even more to maintain our surplus for next year.

That said, we have a number of people who have signed up for auto-renewal and are scheduled to “renew” over the next few months, but have not yet done so. If that is you, please consider contacting us and renewing now. If you have not subscribed or renewed, please consider doing so. And if you know someone who would like to participate but cannot afford to pay the full amount, please have them contact me.

Crime Stats

Here is a summary of the criminal activity in our neighborhood from March through May.

Crime Map

Here is a map giving a snapshot of the criminal activity over the last three months combined (22 incidents).

Legend: car (thefts of/from vehicle); star (burglaries); ring (other theft); hand (violent crime); whistle (sexual assault). Data is available at https://goo.gl/vFfDmT.

Constable Patrol Activity

Wonder what our Constables do, other than generally patrol the neighborhood to be seen and prevent crime? Here is a summary of “Contract Activity Report.”

Bonus. For those who may be curious, here is a map of our contract area:

We remind everyone for a crime in progress, please call 911 first. If our deputies are on duty, they should be monitoring those calls, though you can also call Precinct One dispatch after calling 911 for crimes in progress.

Do not hesitate to call Precinct One for something that doesn’t look right. Our deputies want you to err on the side of calling things in. Our neighborhood is big, and you can help direct our deputies to suspicious activity.

Brad Snead
VP-Security WHCA

Hogg Middle School Registration by Michael Graves

Zoned to Hogg MS and planning to attend in August? Registration for new students is June 12-15 from 8:30-11:30am & 2:30-4:30pm.

Bring the following:
1.) parent/guardian ID;
2.) proof of residency (current utility bill, HCAD tax bill or current lease);
3.) the student's shot record; and
4) the student's last report card.

Magnet students who have already provided these documents to Ms. Andrade are registered for next year.

Call us if you have any questions: 713-802-4700.