Meeting Notes: WHCA September General Meeting & Candidates Forum by Michael Graves

The WHCA September General Meeting was held Tuesday, September 10th at 7 pm in the auditorium of Hogg Middle School. This article is a recap of the events of that evening.

Lights In The Heights Merchandise

Members filtered into the auditorium past a table with an array of Lights in the Heights merchandise. Beth Allen-Brock and Melissa McKee explained that these items are available for order now. Some items are made to order, so it’s important that you place your order via the WHCA website asap. In those cases, items will only be available people who order in advance.

The ladies further indicated that people who order LITH merchandise will be able to pickup their goods at the Friday Night Lights event on Friday, December 13th.

(L-to-R) WHCA President, Harry McMahon, former Treasurer Melissa McKee and former Secretary Beth Allen-Brock.

Call To Order

WHCA President Harry McMahon opened the meeting, calling for a show of hands from the members present to determine that there was a quorum. With around 40 people in the auditorium, it was determined that we did have quorum, although this was not critical since there were no agenda items requiring a vote by the membership.

Lights In The Heights Date & Route

Next, Harry introduced Ashley Allison, Co-chair of the 2019 Lights in the Heights committee. Ashley announced that Lights in the Heights would be Saturday, December 14th. The proposed route is Highland and Omar Streets, from Studewood to Florence.

The proposed route is subject to approval of our permit application. LITH has been on these streets in the past, but not for a number of years. As such, we have every reason to expect that the permit will be issued. When the details are finalized a reference map will be published.

Everything you need to know about Lights in the Heights will be in the November WHCA newsletter, which will be printed and hand-delivered throughout Woodland Heights.

Volunteer Your Porch!

The LITH committee is looking for folks along the route (Highland & Omar) who would like to host an entertainer on their front porch. Interested residents can contact Kent Brock at

LITH Masquerade Bash

There will be a LITH Holiday Masquerade Bash on Friday, October 25th at Studewood Place, 1111 Studewood. This is fun, casual event with all funds going to support Lights in the Heights. Tickets are now available in the online store at the WHCA website.

District H Candidates Forum

With the WHCA housekeeping out-of-the-way, Harry turned the meeting over to Charles Kuffner, the moderator of the District H Candidates Forum.

We were pleased to have all four of the candidates running to represent District H on Houston City Council participating in the event. We recorded the proceeding for the benefit of those who could not attend.

Many thanks to WH resident Estella Espinosa for her work preparing this video. It was our first time using this venue, which was surprising for the amount of reverberation it presents. The presentation has been substantially tidied up, but not edited for content. The recording contains the exchange in its entirety.

TXDOT Survey On The I45 Project by Michael Graves

A few days ago this arrived from TXDOT:

We Want Your Feedback: Take the North Houston Highway Improvement Project Survey

Hello Interested Stakeholders,

Please click on the link below to take this short survey about the I-45/North Houston Highway Improvement Project (NHHIP).* This survey is intended to gather feedback on potential actions TxDOT could take in order to lessen impacts on the communities affected by the proposed highway project.

The survey is intentionally short, only seven questions long and should only take a few minutes to complete. Although the survey is brief the information it provides is critical to helping TxDOT improve the NHHIP. Thank you in advance for your feedback. We look forward to hearing from you. Please complete the survey by Sept. 20, 2019.

*More details about the survey...

TxDOT's NHHIP environmental studies identify and quantify potential natural, human and social environmental effects of the proposed transportation improvements. Adverse impacts that cannot be avoided must be adequately mitigated. Accordingly, TxDOT is required to compensate for or replace lost resources. This survey will help us evaluate currently considered mitigation strategies and potentially identify additional options.

For details about the I-45/North Houston Highway Improvement Project, please visit our website at

Announcing the WHCA September General Meeting & Candidates Forum! by Michael Graves

WHCA General Meeting Hogg Banner.jpg

Tuesday, September 10th at 7pm
in the auditorium at Hogg Middle School
1100 Merrill St

This month the highlight of the agenda is a Candidates Forum including; Karla Cisneros, Cynthia Reyes-Revilla, Isabel Longoria, and Gaby Salcedo. All four are running for the Houston City Council seat representing District H, which includes Woodland Heights.

Residents attending the meeting will be able to submit written questions, to be asked by the moderator, and answered by each of the candidates.

Charles Kuffner (Moderator)

Charles Kuffner (Moderator)

The Candidates Forum will be moderated by WH resident Charles Kuffner. He is the author of Off The Kuff, a Houston-based political blog covering state and local affairs. Founded in 2001, it is the oldest continuously running political blog in Texas. It has gained tremendous support throughout the state for its detailed political reporting and commentary. Kuffner’s work has been syndicated by the Houston Chronicle and has been featured in Texas Monthly and the Houston Press.

As usual, there will also be updates from the WHCA board of directors and committees.

WHCA Secretary Alaina Hebert is leading a new effort to encourage the proper recycling of batteries and consumer electronics items with batteries inside. Following the guidelines offered at, items will be collected at WHCA General Meetings, like one planned for September 10th.

Woodland Heights Stats from Crime (August 2019) by Michael Graves

The following is the monthly report issued by for Woodland Heights, for the period of August 1 to 31st, 2019.

Your CrimeReports alert for the period: Aug 01, 2019 — Aug 31, 2019. This update includes all incidents added to the map since the last update you received.

Note: Alert areas are calculated using a standard-sized monitor. Depending on the size of your browser window, you may see a different number of incidents when you click the "map incidents" link.

Location: Woodland Heights

Aug 01, 2019 — Aug 31, 2019

33 Incidents







Property Crimes

Breaking & Entering
Property Crime
Theft from Vehicle
Theft of Vehicle

Quality of Life Crimes


Violent Crimes


Are you a member of the WHCA Constable Patrol Program? The presence of the Harris County Precinct One Constables on patrol in the neighborhood reduces response times dramatically when an incident is reported.

New WHCA Battery Recycling Effort by Michael Graves

WHCA Secretary Alaina Hebert is leading a new effort to encourage the proper recycling of batteries and consumer electronics items with batteries inside. Following the guidelines offered at, items will be collected at WHCA General Meetings, like one planned for September 10th. The General Meetings are not only an opportunity to engage in the WH community, they’re also your chance to safely dispose of the old batteries & mobile phones cluttering up your junk drawer.

Announcing the WHCA September General Meeting & Candidate Forum! by Michael Graves

The next WHCA General Meeting of members will be Tuesday, September 10th at 7pm at a location yet to be determined.

The highlight of the agenda is a Candidate Forum moderated by WH resident and long-time political writer Charles Kuffner. Confirmed forum participants include; Karla Cisneros, Cynthia Reyes-Revilla, Isabel Longoria, and Gaby Salcedo. All four are running for Houston City Council representing District H, which includes Woodland Heights.

Residents attending the Candidate Forum will be able to submit written questions, to be asked by the moderator, and answered by each of the candidates.

Also on the agenda:

The usual suspects will be on-hand to present the current state of WHCA activities. We may also have some news from the Lights in the Heights Committee.

Be watching your inbox for further details about this most interesting and timely event.

About those campaign signs.... by Michael Graves

Election seasons is upon us, as you can tell from the campaign signs appearing in yards around the neighborhood. David Scott recently started a thread on NextDoor with some good information about the legalities of these signs.

If you place a sign in your yard, be sure that it's actually in your yard. It should be located on the near* side of the sidewalk, closer to the home. The far* side of the sidewalk, closer to the street, is the public right-of-way, where placement of such signs is actually illegal.

It's also illegal to place campaign signs on any public property or telephone poles. If you see such signs, you can report them to 311. To file such a report requires that you have a street address as a point of reference.

*Should you have any questions about near vs far, I refer you to this classic 1975 routine from Sesame Street. Grover handles the subject monsterfully.

Bike To The Beach by Michael Graves

On September 28, my husband Cory and I will once again join hundreds of other cyclists in the 4th annual Houston to Galveston edition of Bike to the Beach. This year we will pedal 62 miles in an effort to raise funds and awareness for Autism, the most prevalent developmental disability in the world. If you’d like to support this important cause, you can make a tax deductible donation here:


My goal is to raise $1,000, while this event as a whole will raise more than $250,000 to be used both locally and throughout the state of Texas.

Bike to the Beach is not just the host of charity bike events, but a community made up of individuals, cyclists, local organizations, advocates, philanthropists, corporate companies, and national partners, on a mission together to promote bicycle riding, raise funds, and make an impact on the community affected by autism.

- Melissa McKee, Former WHCA Treasurer

Lights in the Heights 2019 Logo Unveiled by Michael Graves

As the end of August approaches, all of us are wilted. We are dreaming of cool breezes, color in the trees and the spicy aromas of Fall. The holidays are just around the corner, and the Lights in the Heights Committee is already hard at work.

Before summer vacation, the LITH Committee began working on the 2019 Lights in the Heights logo with Hogg Middle School art teacher Connie Sulewski and students in the Graphic Design Program. The Graphic Design Program at Hogg offers students comprehensive graphic design from conceptual-development through production, using digital technologies. Graphic design students address a variety of design problems while gaining confidence and proficiency working with digital media.

Ms. Sulewski brought over 100 student designs to the LITH Committee and they were all fantastic! The Committee was greatly impressed with the student submissions, and choosing just one logo design was really hard. After much deliberation, the Committee chose a beautiful logo of Holiday Bells wrapped in lights designed by Oli Bayse, who was in 6th grade when she designed the logo.

LITH 2019_RGB black banner registered trademark.png

Congratulations Oli Bayse!
Olivia’s 2019 LITH logo design will be on signs, posters, letters, T-shirts and tree ornaments. The Merchandise sub-committee is organizing pre-sale dates and online orders for all Lights in the Heights merchandise. Melissa McKee and Beth Allen-Brock will be at the WHCA September General Meeting and the November General Meeting to take pre-sale orders for LITH merchandise.

Online orders will be through the WHCA website at, and plan to start September 10th, closing at midnight, Sunday December 8th. All merchandise will be delivered at Friday Night Lights on Friday, December 13th at the Norhill Esplanade, to take advantage of tax-free savings. Alternate pick-up dates will be the week of December 16th.

Now, add an entry to your calendars to order 2019 Lights in the Heights merchandise!

Happy Fall, Y’all!!

Yard-of-the-Month: 3540 Pineridge by Michael Graves

Our September Yard of the Month has seen many changes over the 38 years its owners Tim Calk and Leigh Owen have lived there. When purchased in 1981, it had one front flower bed of cannas and two hackberry trees in back surrounded by weeds three feet tall. Since those days the owners have seen trees come and go. They discovered after a few years the silver maple and weeping willow they planted didn't prosper, but a 35-year-old magnolia and three-story red oak anchor the front yard.

The current plantings reflect their love of green foliage and colorful flowers, but are showing the effects of summer and will be transitioned to fall when cooler temperatures arrive. Today's plantings in the front and back yards and along the drive include:

  • loropetalum

  • sago palms

  • boxwood

  • crossandra orange marmalade (a favorite!)

  • variegated hostas (another favorite)

  • sedum

  • golden creeping jenny

  • verbena

  • lantana

  • firebush (hummingbird bush, Hamelia patens)

  • vitex

  • sweet olive

  • banana trees

  • elephant ear

  • ficus pumila

  • magnolia

  • red oak

And while these plantings are all fine and lovely, it's really about the tomato.
This special tribute to Leigh's hometown occupies the curb at the driveway. Surrounded by a low ground cover of golden creeping jenny, their tomato weighs in at an impressive 660-lbs of solid concrete! A surprise gift from Leigh's sister and brother-in-law, it has more than 300 "twins" occupying sidewalks and lawns in Jacksonville, Texas, the one-time "Tomato Capital of the World."

"We love the Heights and how near we were to the Gulf Publishing Company building on Allen Parkway where we both worked together for more than 25 years," said Tim Calk.
And there are more stories! The tomato may have been what made me stop at first, but if you pause there for a picture and find Tim or Leigh on their porch, ask about the decoration on their door!

Thank you, Leigh and Tim, for sharing the tomato story and your yard.
- Stephanie Riceman, WHCA Director of Beautification

Open House: September 7, 2019 Houston Heights Woman’s Club with the Heights Public Library by Michael Graves


The Houston Heights Woman’s Club welcomes all our Greater Heights Area neighbors to an informal Open House on Saturday, September 7 from 10 am to 12 noon.

Visit our historic clubhouse, learn about our neighborhood community service activities, social events and 119 year old Literary Club. View the latest updates to our beautiful rental venue. Take the opportunity to also learn about the many services offered by our Heights Neighborhood Library who is sponsoring a table at this open house.

What: Houston Heights Woman’s Club’s Open House

When: Saturday, September 7, 2019; 10:00 am – 12 noon

Where: HHWC Clubhouse, 1846 Harvard Street

Wear: No need to dress up - this is a come as you are event


Or visit our website

Upcoming I-45 Workshops by Michael Graves

The City and its technical team are gathering input to develop alternative designs and make recommendations to TXDOT and has developed an interactive map that can be accessed here. Please join Council Member Cisneros for the upcoming COH Planning Department Workshops on the IH-45 project. More info here. Additional workshops are being scheduled for late Sept./early Oct. (TBD).

Tuesday, 8/13/19, 6 pm - 7:30 pm, Optional intro at 5:40 pm
Harris County Dept. of Education, 6300 Irvington Blvd.
Accessible by METRO 79
Focus on Segment 2 & 3-North (I-610 to I-10 & I-10 to US-59)

Thursday, 8/15/19, 6 - 7:30 pm, Optional intro at 5:40 pm
Aldine Ninth Grade School, 10650 North Freeway
Accessible by METRO 56, 59, 99
Focus on Segment 1-North (Beltway 8 to N. Shepherd)

Saturday, 8/17/19, 10 am - 11:30 am, Optional intro at 9:40 am
Burrus Elementary School, 701 E. 33rd St.
Accessible by METRO 44 & 56
Focus on Segment 1-South (N. Shepherd to I-610)

Watching Out For Street Trees by Michael Graves

A live oak lost in the 500 block of Bayland Avenue.

You may have noticed that one of the much-loved Live Oaks on Bayland Avenue was recently taken down. Several neighbors noted this as it was about to occur. While we're saddened by the loss of the majestic oak, we are happy to report that, according to the COH Forester, the tree in question was properly permitted for removal due to structural problems.

If you witness the removal of trees from street easements, please call 832-395-7100 immediately so the Houston Parks Dept can check for permits and avoid unnecessary street tree loss. This phone line is answered 24 hours a day.

For all other non-emergency street tree service requests please call 3-1-1 (713-837-0311).

Yard of The Month: 728 Usener by Michael Graves

Our August Yard of the Month is 728 Usener, home to Daniel Rueda for more than twenty years. It is thoughtfully tended with help from David Bartula (Luxury Lawns), sourcing locally, mostly from Buchanan's and statues from Joshua's. Plantings are chosen to be low maintenance, capable of withstanding our melting climate, and high impact, with florals taking turns to pop seasonally.

Through his yard you will find:

  • Yaupon Holly for a little shade

  • Asparagus Fern

  • Purple Potato Vine provides the tiered entry along a rare Houston hill

  • Agapanthus

  • Periwinkle

  • Canna Lily in a lovely salmon hue

Rudbeckia, showing off now in deep summer, is a yellow flower similar to Black Eyed Susan. Daniel's took off from a single planting and fills in so nicely.

Along the east side of his yard, springing from the hardy jasmine ground cover, are beautifully twined purple-bloom Wisteria.

On the west side, in a tricky spot with heat and shade, is a sweet-scented Mountain Laurel.

Years ago a neighbor had suggested having a theme of Red Bud trees lining their block, so in the spring they are on display.

In winter, pansies continue to make his yard vibrant and bright, sometimes complemented by purple kale.

Thank you for sharing your yard with us this month!

- Stephanie Riceman, WHCA Director of Beautification

Want To Ride Into The Future? by Michael Graves

Houston METRO is bringing the autonomous shuttle to Houston for the first time! The Easy Mile autonomous shuttle is a fully automated, 12 passenger (6 seating/6 standing), all electric vehicle to transport students, faculty staff on an one-mile closed loop route along TSU’s Tiger Walk.

TSU’s Tiger Walk driverless Shuttle.jpeg

Houston METRO is offering free tours to ride the autonomous shuttle! Our goal is to inform and educate the public about autonomous shuttle for future integration into our current services. If you’re interested in a FREE group tour, or would like to know more please email or call 713-615-7079.

Please keep in mind that a consent form must be signed before touring, if over 18, or a permission form for those under 18.

The following documents detail how to participate in the project, and ride the autonomous shuttle.

Creature Feature: Cooper’s Hawk by Michael Graves

So… you’re walking down the street with your dog or stroller when a dark blur streaks by and a dozen doves explode out of a tree, with the jays who witnessed the event screaming JAY JAY JAY! What just happened? Chances are good that a Cooper’s Hawk is to blame and that he or she may now be enjoying a meal.

“Coops” are becoming increasingly at home within the Woodland Heights, with these woodland hawks moving into neighborhoods to offset impacts of habitat loss. Coops lurk from hidden perches in trees, swooping out to snatch birds, squirrels, rats, bats, reptiles and insects. All but the tiniest pets are safe, with Cooper’s Hawks weighing in at less than a pound and unlikely to tackle anything bigger than themselves.

Though we may feel bad for those who are eaten, the balance of nature requires these ongoing interactions of prey and predator, as is beautifully illustrated in the new movie The Biggest Little Farm. And the risks work both ways, with the Coops’ method of hunting resulting in injuries that give them an average lifespan of just one year – not good for a species that doesn’t breed until its second year.

As a result, most of the Coops you’ll see are young birds, which have a brown back and wings, and brown streaks running down the white breast and belly. Adults have a slate gray back and wings, with orangey barring across the breast and belly. Coops of all ages have a very long tail with broad brown and gray bands. Photos taken in Woodland Heights and White Oak Park display the progression from nestling, to juvenile, to adult.

Want to learn more about the birds of the ‘hood? Check out the Bayou City Birding resources of the White Oak Bayou Association at and take part in the monthly bird survey at Woodland Park.

- Wendy Wright

Nominate a Bird of Houston by July 15, 2019 by Michael Graves

Recommended by City Counselor Karla Cisneros at the July WHCA general meeting. What's your vote for The Bird of Houston?

Official symbols reflect the cultural heritage & natural treasures of areas. Countries and states recognize emblems like flags, birds, flowers and seals; and every city has its own unique spaces and things residents cherish. At Houston Audubon we treasure birds, people, and natural landscapes, and we are proud to be a part of the Houston community.


Join us in celebrating Houston by helping us select a bird species that represents our bayou city. We take pride in our hometown and we want to hear from our fellow Houstonians which bird inspires or connotes emotion or thought when you think of Houston.

Is it the Great Blue Heron foraging along the bayou or the Great-tailed Grackle scoping out the local HEB parking lot? We want to hear from you!

Nomination period ends July 15, after which we will narrow the submissions to the top 8 birds based on votes. The winner will be determined via brackets beginning on July 22. This will include head-to-head voting in 7 different rounds (with 3 days of voting for each round) until we have the winner. All of this will be happening right here, so be sure to bookmark this page! We'll announce the winning bird at the beginning of our 50th anniversary Bird Week festivities (September 21 - 28, 2019).