Volunteer Opportunities - Mas Minion, Por Favor! by Michael Graves


Over the course of the past couple of quarters that WHCA board has concluded that the board members alone simply can't do everything that needs to be done. If we are ambitious in our goals, we need the help of volunteers to accelerate our progress. We joke that what we need are some Minion!

One of the things I have learned is that the VP-Comms needs to more directly support the activities of the committees. While I've reached out, seeking submissions, I've not always been able to craft them myself. Nor do the committees necessarily have resources required to adequately promote or document their various activities.

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So it is that I am seeking volunteers to join Team Comms for the coming year;

Writer - We would benefit tremendously from someone to help with some writing. We need to be more proactive about generating stories for the web site and newsletter. Also, to assist the committees in creating compelling copy for their various projects.


Photographer - Words without pictures can be lifeless. We could surely use someone who would take photographs at WHCA events like the Home Tour or Lights-in-the-Heights. Between events there are opportunities to photograph the Yard-Of-The-Month or Creature Feature. I'm sure that we can dream up dozens of fun and interesting things to photograph in WH.

If you are interested in either of these volunteer opportunities, please get in touch! You can email communications@woodland-heights.org.

Update on the Houston Ave - White Oak Drive Project by Michael Graves

The following was submitted by Pat Rutledge following a TIRZ-5 meeting the morning of February 28th.

Here is a brief overview of the current status of the Houston Ave. / White Oak Drive intersection redevelopment project.

Originally the project was scheduled for completion in late March 2019. Currently the completion is expected to delayed slightly and be completed by mid to late April 2019. Rain is responsible for some of the time delay but the greater culprit is the delay in removing the privately owned “telephone” poles: CenterPoint, AT&T, and AT&T Legacy, etc. However that work is now expected to begin and be completed the week of March 4th. After that is completed the remaining work will concentrate on the Woodland Heights Gateway at the north west corner of the intersection. Additionally the entire intersection will receive an asphalt overlay at the end.

This project is the first to meet the newly revised city guidelines for traffic safety and pedestrian walkability, i.e. the new mobility plan.

As an added enhancement City Council District H has funded an extension of the street level bike lane from the intersection south to intersect with the MKT Trail that crosses Houston Ave near Spring St.

The WHCA Clock Tower has been completely refurbished and is awaiting transport and installation into the Gateway as that part of the project is completed.

The most recent printed update on the project and the supervising company (Jones and Carter) is available for download here.

This tremendous improvement to the neighborhood will significantly beautify the south east entrance to the community while making pedestrian and bicycle use much safer.

Pat Rutledge
Friends of Woodland Park

Saluting Volunteers: Andrea Gorney, Block Captain Coordinator by Michael Graves

This item is excerpted from the February issue of the WHCA eNewsletter.

It’s only fitting that we acknowledge the behind-the-scenes efforts of those help make Woodland Heights such a great community in which to live. Those of us who serve on the WHCA board are perhaps most visible, but there are dozens of other volunteers who bring critical skills, time and attention to enhancing the neighborhood.

I'd like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the largely unseen efforts of Andrea Gorney. Andrea is the WH neighbor who has overseen our block captain program for the past two years. Andrea coordinates the ever-changing team of volunteers who ensure that our printed newsletters and door hangers actually make it to your door in a timely fashion. She's been integral to how the WHCA reaches out to neighbors who are not necessarily active online. And I am tremendously grateful for her assistance.

Michael Graves
VP Communications, WHCA

P.S. - WHCA is an all-volunteer organization. If you would like to help us in our mission to “bring about civic betterment and social improvements in the Heights area of Houston…,” please get in touch.

Saluting Volunteers: Mark Sternfels by Michael Graves

In January of this year I completed my second year on the WHCA Board of Directors. At the end of 2016, I was recruited into the post of VP of Communications, filling the void left by the departure of the very capable Mark Sternfels

Mark not only preceded me in this post, he has continued to provide assistance as needed. Last fall he stepped in to help the Lights in the Heights committee make various changes to the WHCA web site at a time when I was busy with preparing printed goods. He's consistently willing, helpful, skilled and patient.

It’s only appropriate that we recognize the efforts of people like Mark, who help make WH a vibrant and exciting community.

Michael Graves
VP Communications, WHCA

P.S. - WHCA is an all-volunteer organization. If you would like to help us in our mission to “bring about civic betterment and social improvements in the Heights area of Houston…,” please get in touch.

President's Message: It's that time of year again, but with a new twist. by Michael Graves


As you all likely know, our March General Meeting is set by our bylaws as our Annual General Meeting during which Members in attendance elect new officers. Toward those ends and per the Bylaws, your Board has formed a Nomination Committee to seek Members to run for the open Board positions.

Now for the interesting part. Per the authority granted in the current bylaws, Article XI, the Board is in the process of updating our bylaws. One of the key goals of our update pertains to the election and term of Board Members. If anyone has served on a board like ours, one of the truly troubling dilemmas is how best to engender continuity between incoming and outgoing board members. After studying multiple boards for associations like ours, as well as numerous and various non-profit organizations, it was clear to us one of the best measures to decrease the information loss that occurs with the changing of the guard is to decrease the number of those changes. It is a common solution with boards we examined to extend the term of the board members from one to two years. We intend to incorporate that idea into our Bylaws.

Further, we are working to reduce the burden on the Association volunteer pool by staggering the anticipated two-year terms. This staggering will allow the Association to go to the well of the volunteer electorate for only half the current Board head count each year. To integrate the staggered terms with the two-year term length, several of the duly elected Board Members have generously offered to take on a second year of volunteer service at the position to which they were elected. Under the terms considered in the Bylaw update, the balance of Board positions will come up for election at the upcoming Annual General Meeting of the Association.

In order to coordinate these changes, the Board has voted to move the Annual General Meeting, and thereby the election of Board Officers, from the March General Meeting to the May General Meeting. This will accommodate recruiting of candidates for open Board positions and allow the Association to provide input to the Board before the Board renders its final decision regarding the update to the Bylaws. In all cases, the existing Board Members have consented to serve the additional period necessary to elect and install the folks elected to fill the opening Board positions.

At the 2019 Annual General Meeting in May, the Association will elect candidates for the following Board Positions to serve for two years:

  • Director – Membership (currently held by Jay Francis)

  • Director – Infrastructure/Land Use (currently held by Matt Johnson)

  • Treasurer (currently held by Sharon Greiff)

  • Secretary (currently held by Debbie Hall)

The following Board Members have volunteered to serve an additional year at their elected position to accommodate the “staggering” explained above. These folk’s term will close with the elections at the 2020 Annual General Meeting:

  • President (Harry McMahon)

  • Director – Beautification (Stephanie Riceman)

  • Director – Communications (Michael Graves)

  • Director – Security (Cody McGregor)

  • Director - Deed Restrictions (Melissa Sternfels)

As President, I would like to take this opportunity to thank those individuals who have contacted me and the other Board Members to offer their services to the Association. Now that we have a charted path forward, all those interested in volunteering, please submit (or resubmit) to me your name and any position you are interested in pursuing.

Although I am certain I am leaving some key positions out, I have attempted to summarize the opportunities to volunteer your services.

Open Board Positions

  • Membership

  • Infrastructure/Land Use

  • Secretary

  • Treasurer

If you are not interested in a Board position, all of the Board Members often have need for ad hoc committees and task assistance. Such commitments allow a volunteer to “dip a toe in the water” and better understand the process, responsibility and effort required in a Board Position.

Of course, we have numerous committees and subcommittees which are consistently in need of helping hands. Lights in the Heights and the Home Tour committees are always looking for volunteers. Additional ad hoc committees can be formed only if there are enough volunteers will to work to support the effort. For example, an ad hoc committee is contemplated to help better understand the need for sidewalk upgrades. We are also considering how best to apply the opportunity to plant trees where established trees have died or have been removed. We have needs for an IT subcommittee, data management assistance, deed restriction coordination, infrastructure monitoring and planning, constable patrol coordination, assistance with disseminating flyers, newsletters and door-hangers generated by Communications and last but certainly not least, assistance with keep our beautification upgrades in good shape and, hopefully, executing beautification projects currently under consideration.

There are TONS more opportunities which I have certainly overlooked. If you have skills not included in the above, and you would like to offer your services, do not hesitate to send in your name and suggested field of endeavor.

Finally, I personally want to thank all those who have served so selflessly on the Board of Directors and the numerous, essential committees and volunteer positions which help the Association make the Woodland Heights a special place to live. Thanks to you all.

Harry McMahon
President, Woodland Heights Civic Association

Creature Feature #3: Milo by Michael Graves

Milo came to join our family in February 2017. Someone in the neighborhood found him as a puppy wondering along the bayou and posted a lost dog alert. We responded that he wasn’t ours but we’d happy to give me a home! We spent a few weeks searching for his owners. Leads came in from other neighbors, we had him checked for a chip and called local vets but we came up empty.

We were more than happy to welcome him into our family though! Now he happily keeps watch on our corner. Every morning and afternoon Milo waits for Travis kids to say hello. If he’s lucky, a game of chase happens through the fence or someone reaches through to throw his tennis ball. He also loves playdates with his many four-legged friends in the neighborhood!

Christina DeHaven

Milo one of several dogs that comprise the NoMo Canine Mafia, which also includes Bear, Bo, Bruno, Duke, Lucy, Luna and Sam. We see at least some of them every day. - Editor

Yard-of-the-Month: 411 Bayland by Michael Graves

It's azalea season, and Mary and Brad Robbins' yard at 411 Bayland is blooming! Some of their bushes were thriving before they moved in nearly 30 years ago - wow! The massive, classic oaks nearly dwarf the Wilson four-square, and host resurrection ferns on their sprawling limbs. The effect is quieting.

The shade across the front meant their landscaping had to transform over the years with their family, and was rebuilt in 1997 with design and construction help from Bill Salario, incorporating a brick kitchen garden, a 'Secret Garden' with fountain, and river rock. But the front porch has always been lined by the azaleas that don't seem to mind the shade.

Raising a family of four boys meant creating spaces for them to play, including a long zip line, now replaced with a swing set for the grandkids and raised garden beds to take advantage of the sunshine away from the arching oaks. Around the pathways and stonework can be found gardenias, camellias, agapanthus, aspidistra, hidden ginger, ligularia, brunfelsia, maidenhair fern, and spider lily. A stone path with dwarf mondo grass leads away where Brad's plumeria collection enjoys the sun.

Thanks to a tip from my friend and neighborhood volunteer, Pat Schaper, who noticed this yard and suggested I have a closer look. So glad I did! If you have a yard you would like to nominate for Yard of the Month, send an email to beautification@woodland-heights.org

H-E-B Opens Long-Awaited Heights Store by Michael Graves

HOUSTON, TEXAS – H-E-B made good on its promise to build a store for Houston’s Heights community by opening its newest multi-level location at 2300 N. Shepherd Drive (at 24th St.) on Wednesday, January 30th. The brand new, 92,000 sq.-ft. store features expansive shopping options, covered parking, and is equipped with elevators and escalators to easily navigate the double-story structure.

“We appreciate all of the support and effort by The Heights community that made it possible for HEB to build here”, said Scott McClelland, H-E-B President Food & Drug. Creating a store that captures the spirit of The Heights was our number one goal. I think we’ve been able to add to the character of the community with this store. It’s as good as we know how to build.”

In 2016, residents who lived within the boundaries that once defined a 104-year-old “dry” area of The Houston Heights voted to repeal the ban on the legal sale of beer and wine for off-premise consumption paving the way for H-E-B to build.

Tammy Hager, H-E-B Heights Top Store Leader, will lead a team of more than 388 Partners (employees), many of whom were recruited from three local high schools. “We wanted to give students an opportunity to connect with H-E-B and grow with us,” said Hager.

Hager, a 37-year grocery industry veteran and 15-year H-E-B Partner, has strong ties to the Heights area. She previously lived off 18th Street and regularly enjoyed the T.C. Jester and Buffalo Bayou bike trails while training for longer rides to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Members of her extended family were raised in in Cottage Grove, shopping the store previously located on the H-E-B Heights site and the H-E-B on T.C. Jester.

“In many ways for my family, it’s coming full circle, and we are excited to be a part of the new store,” added Hager. “This neighborhood is very special, it’s like no other in Houston. There is so much history and culture, much like the spirit of H-E-B.”

Continues at the HEB web site.

Announcing the 2019 WHCA Constable Patrol Program by Michael Graves


Since 2011, Woodland Heights Civic Association has administered a Constable Patrol Program, serviced by Harris County Precinct One. Our Constable Patrol Program is a supplemental police force that provides additional safety and security to our neighborhood through the work of two deputies hired to patrol the neighborhood for two 40-hour shifts per week.

Program Benefits:

  • Vacation watch and lock checks

  • Home security checks

  • Ability to link home security alert system to Precinct 1 dispatch vs. Harris county main dispatch

  • Constable Patrol sign in yard

  • Increased police presence in neighborhood

New Discounts & Incentives
In 2018, just 415 of the approximately 2000 homes in the Woodland Heights neighborhood funded the entire program. In an effort to grow the program’s participation rate and continue to provide the additional neighborhood security, we’ve arrived at a new fee structure for 2019. The rates are reduced, and include incentives for both early renewal and referring new program subscribers.

2019 Program Rates:
Early-Bird Rate: $300* (Renew before April 1)
Regular Rate: $350 (After March 31st)
Referral credit: $ 25**

*$300 paid by check, $310 if paid online using a credit card.
**Credit for each new subscriber (non-2018 participant) is $25 towards your renewal in 2020.

Now is the time to take advantage of the Early-Bird rate and help keep our neighborhood safe!
Visit https://www.woodland-heights.org/store/constable-patrol to join us in protecting the Woodland Heights.

Don’t hesitate to contact: Cody McGregor at security@woodland-heights.org

Seeking Volunteers for a Nominating Committee by Michael Graves

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The WHCA general meeting on March 12th is the final meeting of our year. That meeting centers around electing a new Board of Directors. On April 1st that new board takes over for the 2019 - 20 year.

To facilitate that election, the WHCA President is tasked with appointing a nominating committee who are charged with finding candidates to run for the various open directorships. According to the bylaws that committee must be two (2) current directors and three (3) homeowner members.

So it is that we are seeking volunteers to sit on the nominating committee. To sit on this committee you must be a WHCA member and not yourself running for a directorship.

If you are interested in volunteering please contact Harry McMahon at president@woodland-heights.org.

Yard-of-the-Month: 1126 Highland by Michael Graves

Brian Walker and Lorenzo Rodriguez have been lovingly tending their garden at 1126 Highland for over twenty years.

With midwinter taking a toll on many yards, theirs stands out as it continues to bloom, now with deep roots and a history surrounding their home. It’s a treat for neighborhood wildlife and insects, with diverse plantings including azaleas, bottlebrush, irises, lilies, lantana, succulents, and hibiscus, as well as the more common crepe myrtles, muhly grass, boxwood, and sago palm. They even incorporated a small yard art hydrant to welcome dogs!

The bricks imprinted with Mexia that make up part of their walkway were salvaged from their home’s original oven. When I asked about a pretty tri-leaf filling around their lilies and azaleas, Lorenzo said “That may be a weed. But it’s nice and grows well, so I left it.” I love that approach, and it’s so pretty. 

Stephanie Riceman
WHCA, VP Beautification

WHCA Yard-of-the-Month Sign Missing! by Michael Graves

It seems that the WHCA Yard-of-the-Month signs has gone missing. It's last known perch was 528 Bayland. We need it back! If someone grabbed it, perhaps to prank a neighbor, we'd be happy just to see it returned to where they found it. No questions asked. Michael Graves VP Communications, WHCA

Have you seen this sign? We need it returned.

Have you seen this sign? We need it returned.

MextroNext Public Meeting Monday, January 28th by Michael Graves


METRO’s Board of Directors, led by Chair Carrin Patman, is developing a new plan for transit services in the Houston/Harris County region. It will be a forward-looking plan focused on providing more transportation choices to more people.

The planning process has been underway since 2017. The current phase in the process includes a series of public meetings to expose the draft plan for comment. The public meeting nearest to Woodland Heights is as follows:

Monday, January 28 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Fulbright Tower
1301 McKinney
Houston, Texas 77010

For more information about MetroNext see their website.

Councilor Karla Cisneros on Trash & Recycling Collection by Michael Graves

This morning’s email newsletter from District H Councilor Karla Cisneros included the following letter:

January 17, 2019

Dear District H Constituents,

      As Council Member representing District H, I want to touch base with you all regarding the spike in missed and delayed waste pick up whether it be recycling or heavy trash. Please know that this spike is not isolated to your neighborhood or even just District H. This is a city-wide problem that has been happening for the last few months, and in an effort to achieve clarity, I have compiled below information regarding the delays and what the Solid Waste Department is doing to resume regularly scheduled recycling and heavy trash pickup.

What is causing the delays?

  • The City’s fleet of recycling trucks is aging and many sustained damage during Hurricane Harvey. This has led to equipment downtime as the trucks are repaired.

  • Many homeowners’ garbage and recycling bins were washed away during Hurricane Harvey, creating a backlog of delivery of the new bins.

  • Solid Waste is experiencing an increase in volume, typical for this time of year, further contributing to delays.

  • Solid Waste needs new truck mechanics and experienced CDL drivers, of which there are few, due to the nation-wide skilled labor shortage.

What is the City doing to help?

  • At the end of the summer, Solid Waste will receive 69 new trucks.

  • City Council voted to approve a recycling collections contract with a private vendor and a rental contract for extra manual collection garbage trucks while we wait for the new trucks to come in this summer. 

  • While there is a hiring freeze for most City of Houston departments, Solid Waste is exempt so that they may hire desperately needed trucks drivers and mechanics. To apply, visit this website.

  • Solid Waste has staff working overtime on weekends in an effort to get back on schedule.

  • Mayor Turner’s team is tracking all missed and delayed pickups personally by remaining in communication with Solid Waste, 311 operators, and Council Members.

  • The Solid Waste Department’s Facebook page updates information on daily routes being picked up each day.

  • Regularly-scheduled pickups are projected to resume ~60 days.

What can residents do?

  • Solid Waste is encouraging residents to take advantage of the six neighborhood depositories in the city. For more information on locations and requirements please visit this website.

  • If your bin is not picked up on your regularly-scheduled day, please report the situation first to 311 and then to my office by calling 832-393-3003. My office will coordinate with the Solid Waste department as well as the Mayor’s office to track and resolve the issue.

  • Continue to follow social media and the Solid Waste website for updates on when your neighborhood’s pickup will take place.

I understand that this situation is not only inconvenient, but frustrating. My staff and I have been tracking this issue for months and continue to vigilantly advocate for the constituents of District H. We are here to make your communications with the City of Houston more efficient and more transparent, so please do not hesitate to call my office with your issues, be they Solid Waste related or otherwise.


Karla Cisneros

Council Member, District H

Yard-Of-The-Month: 528 Bayland by Michael Graves

My friend and I have loved this sweet, expansive yard for a while! Watching it transform through seasons only seems to bring out the beauty in its evolution. 

Looking over the fence you see nicely manicured space, but what is really cool is all along the sidewalk: an antique water fountain with a little bowl for neighborhood critters to have a drink on hot days, benches for big and little kids to have a rest and meet neighbors, and a thoughtfully designed sidewalk that lofts over giant oak root mounds and also easy for those of us on wheels. It's a lovely merger of urban and wild - how fitting for our Woodland Heights, so close to downtown.

- Stephanie Riceman, VP-Beautification

LITH 2018 Merchandise by Michael Graves

Whew, 2018 Lights in the Heights is just a memory, now. And it still has us smiling — fun times, great folks, huge success! This year’s LITH has been a true labor-of-love, for the 2018 LITH Committee. On behalf of the entire LITH Committee, we want to extend our warmest thanks to everyone who supported LITH, in every way. In particular, Melissa McKee and Beth Allen-Brock send our special thanks to those who purchased LITH and WH branded merchandise. This year, merchandise sales topped $10,800, which generated profits of approximately $4400. Every penny of merchandise sales’ profit goes toward the expenses of 2018 Lights in the Heights.

Thank you, neighbors!!

LITH 2018 Acknowledgements by Michael Graves

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Lights in the Heights is the result of a massive amount of work by a volunteer team of neighbors. With the event now well in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to extend a big thank you to the entire team of LITH 2018 Chairs and Volunteers!

Lights in the Heights Co-Chairs

  • Sharon Greiff

  • Susan Pennebaker

Lighter in the Heights Chair

  • Peggy Sparks

Holiday Bash Co-Chairs

  • Gabe Vick

  • Bridget Vick

  • Jason Williams

  • Kristi Williams

Silent Auction Chair

  • Lauren Snead

LITH Budget Chair

  • Melissa McKee

LITH Merchandise Co-Chairs

  • Beth Allen-Brock

  • Robyn Klepper

  • Melissa McKee

Friday Night Lights Chair

  • Katie McCafferty

LITH Volunteer Coordinator

  • Claire Getschow

Vendor Contracts, City Permits, Insurance Rider

  • Melissa Sternfels

  • Sharon Greiff

Communications Publisher and WHCA Web

  • Michael Graves

Distribution of Newsletters

  • Andrea Gorney

Art Direction and Graphic Design

  • Stella Espinosa

Luminaria Chair

  • Caroline Johnston

Printing Coordinator, Cookie Chair

  • Robyn Klepper

Block/Porch Generals

  • Meagan Mastal

  • Melissa Sternfels

Band/Porch Coordinators

  • Meredith Burke

  • Ward Pennebaker

  • Kent Brock

Awards Judging Chair

  • Stephanie Riceman

Luminaria Chair

  • Caroline Johnston

LITH Web Portal

  • Mark Sternfels

Thanks also to all volunteers who supported the above chairs with their time, ideas and do-nations.