WHCA Spring Housekeeping by Michael Graves

Spring has sprung and as is the case in many Association households, the WHCA has many items we are trying to, risking a phrase that trivializes some very important issues, “tidy up”

Board Elections

One of the foremost is the upcoming elections for the open positions on the board of directors. As of this writing we have nominations for only two positions. Should you feel the call to serve the Association and help improve our neighborhood, please contact the Nomination Committee at nominations@woodland-heights.org. The two-year term positions coming open are…

  • Director – Membership

  • Director – Infrastructure/Land Use

  • Treasurer

  • Secretary

If you have questions regarding the responsibilities or duties associated with any of the positions, please do not hesitate to inquire.

Revised WHCA Bylaws

As we announced in our last general meeting, the WHCA Board of Directors had adopted a draft of the revised bylaws. The final version should be complete well before the next general meeting. We will keep you updated on the progress.


In addition to folks wanting to serve on the Board of Directors for the WHCA, we are always looking to add to our volunteer rosters for our standing and ad hoc committees. Lights in the Heights® and the Home Tour committees are always looking for help. In addition, the Board has several projects that can only move forward with Association involvement. Planting trees, fixing sidewalks, beautification projects and other deserved causes will flounder without volunteers. We certainly know how life can eat up time allowing month after month pass before you know it. Before those months slip by, drop an email to one of the board members expressing an interest in one project or another and we will work to put an effective group together to carry the work forward. You may find the email address of each board member at https://www.woodland-heights.org/contact.

Hopefully we will see you at our next meeting. To reiterate, we will elect several new board members. If you do not attend, you cannot vote and if you cannot vote, your voice will lose its best means of expression.

YARD-OF-THE-MONTH: 919 Ridge by Michael Graves

You can’t miss the burst of bluebonnets at 919 Ridge, home to Amy, Chris and Nathan Boyers. Bluebonnets here have been an annual occurrence for many years. Every year, bluebonnets drop seeds to produce plants for the following spring.

In 1938, Lorene and Herbert Smith purchased the new home and raised their two children there. Mrs. Smith always loved gardening and sowed bluebonnet seeds near the crepe myrtles by the street. After Mrs. Smith passed away in 2004, Mrs. Smith's granddaughter, Amy, and Chris bought the house from Amy's father. The Boyers have looked forward to the annual bluebonnets every year since. In 2013, Chris and Amy’s son was born in the midst of a bumper crop year of bluebonnets. Four generations of one family have lived in this house, so it has so many special memories. One memory is being entertained by the families that plop their kids among the flowers for bluebonnet pictures. The Boyers enjoy sharing the happiness from the bluebonnets with neighbors.

The rest of the landscaping, installed and maintained by the family, is a mix of natives and low-water plants. They are also experimenting with citrus trees, which have replaced the crepe myrtles planted years ago. Amy held on to several of Mrs. Smith’s roses, day lilies and Easter lilies, which begin blooming once the wildflowers begin to fade.

While their poppies didn't bloom this year, their seeds have blown across the street, sharing, as neighbors do, and are on full display. And bluebonnet volunteers can be found in other nearby yards.

It's a beautiful legacy that the Smith and Boyers families carry through generations, and our neighborhood is made lovelier for it.

COH Presentation on Heights Area Street Safety Improvements by Michael Graves

The WHCA General Meeting on March 19th included a presentation about plans to change the configuration of 11th Street, Studewood and Pecore. This presentation helped to inspire an impressive turnout (62!) for the meeting, which was held in the library at Travis Elementary School. Since there are no doubt many others who would be interested in the details of this project, we recorded the meeting, to make it available here. The slides used in the presentation are also available in PDF format.

The decision to record this meeting was very last minute. The event was shot with a single camera, mostly focussed on the presenter. The video offered here was edited only to add the slides and whatever B-roll shots I could capture using my phone, once the Q&A was underway. It was not edited for content in any way.

Calling Historic Homes! by Michael Graves

WH Homes Vector Art Simple (trans).png

The 2020 Woodland Heights Home Tour is a year away, and the committee is already gearing up for it. The first order of business is selecting houses for the event, which is March 28-29, 2020.

If you would like your home to be considered for the tour, please send an email to Louise Moss at limoss@comcast.net. The committee plans to visit homes in the May-June timeframe with the goal of finalizing homes by end of summer. This lets us get exterior photos done before winter and gives the homeowner plenty of time to prepare for the tour.

The tour features original homes, including those that have been updated and/or expanded. We are particularly eager to hear from you if you have a small- or mid-size house so we can feature a range of sizes and architectural styles. The tour is a major fundraiser that supports neighborhood activities and showcases Woodland Heights’ unique charm to visitors from across Houston.

Trash Bash 2019 - March 30, 2019 by Michael Graves

The YMCA and Greater Northside Management District are teaming up to support Trash Bash 2019 at Little White Oak Bayou on Saturday, March 30, 2019, from 8 am -12 pm.

Volunteers should register at Raven Tower, 310 North Street, or online in advance at http://www.trashbash.org/sites.html and select Little White Oak Bayou. Cleanup sites include Woodland Park, Moody Park and White Oak Music Hall. All volunteers are required to sign a liability release form. It is recommended that you wear and/or bring the following items: pants, sunscreen, hats, insect repellent, rubber boots, and raingear. No sandals or flip-flops.

All volunteers must register or check in at Raven Tower beginning at 8 AM. Do not go to the cleanup site. You will receive gloves, trash bags, a ticket for lunch, and a ticket for door prizes. At 9 AM volunteers will board shuttles for transport to the cleanup site. Participants will return to Raven Tower at 11 AM for a free lunch, entertainment, door prizes, and fun environmental activities.

Warning: Memberships No Longer Auto-Renew by Michael Graves

In the past, WH residents were able to pay for their WHCA dues or Constable Patrol membership online, in a fashion that automatically renewed each year. This was convenient, since once you signed up initially, you didn’t have to think about it. Everything was processed automatically each year, at least until something went amiss with their Paypal account.

As convenient as that was, it also created some confusion. People would sometimes forget that they had previously setup the automatic renewal. They would make a payment manually via the web site, only to find that they had paid twice. This required that the treasurer take action to reverse the charge.

This happened more often that we would have hoped. Often enough that it was burdensome to the treasurer. So, when it came time to rework how payments were handled via the web site, the option for automatic recurring payment was eliminated.

Those who had such payments setup received messages both from Paypal and directly from the treasurer. As we go into our 2019-20 year, everyone must renew their WHCA membership and subscribe anew to the Constable Patrol Program.

Fundraising walk set for April 27, 2019 by Michael Graves

In Stude Park: benefits Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance


The Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance has announced that its “Step Forward for the Cure” walk, a fundraising event, will take place in Stude Park on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. outside the Community Center at 1031 Stude. The walk will start at 9:30.

The event supports raising awareness and funds for tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) research, education and other services.

Tuberous sclerosis complex is a genetic disorder that causes non-cancerous tumors to form in many different organs, primarily in the brain, eyes, heart, kidney, skin and lungs. TSC is also the leading known genetic cause of both epilepsy and autism.

For more information, including how to form a team for the walk, visit http://giving.tsalliance.org.

Cigna Sunday Streets by Michael Graves

Cigna Sunday Streets Houston is an initiative to promote and improve the health of Houstonians. Cigna Sunday Streets Houston opens a stretch of streets normally reserved for cars and other vehicles to allow cycling, walking, dancing, socializing and provides a family-friendly opportunity to be physically active. Come out and enjoy Houston! Be sure to tag us in your pictures and videos #SSHTX!!!.

Date: March 24, 12:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Location: West 19th Street between North Shepherd Dr. & Yale St.

Thank you to Cigna for their support and promotion of a healthy lifestyle.

Pseudo Creature Feature: Dinosaur Spotting in WH by Michael Graves

T-Rex and friends on a field of volcanic ash.

There are folks here in Woodland Heights who, for whatever reason, just don’t live their lives online. the internet is simply not an important thing in their lives. Nonetheless, they are important to us as neighbors. That’s why we continue to print newsletters a few times a year, when it’s important to get critical information widely distributed. It’s also why we use things like door hangers, just recently distributed, to promote the Constable Patrol Program. A hat tip to the Home Tour committee for pointing out that strategy.

The door hangers present a certain problem as well. When we take delivery they have been die cut to hang on the door, but there’s a paper circle that has to be popped out of every one. Since we print 2000 copies that’s 2000 little paper circles that might very possibly litter up the neighborhood.

However, block captain coordinator Andrea Gorney doesn’t let that happen. She broke down the box, counting out how many are needed for each block. In the process she popped out all those dastardly circles! They would not have a chance to litter the ‘hood.

Further, her kids took to playing with them. According to Andrea, “At the time they claimed it was make believe volcanic ash. I’ve since recycled said “ash”. It’s a valid concern - much better my living room than our neighborhood streets.”

WHCA March General Meeting Rescheduled by Michael Graves

The next WHCA General Meeting would normally be the second Tuesday of March. However, that happens to fall during HISD Spring Break, which means that many neighbors are unable to attend. Further, none of the locations where we would hold the meeting are available. As a result, the board last week voted to move the March General Meeting to:

Tuesday, March 19th at 7pm
at Travis Elementary School
3311 Beauchamp St
in the library.

As detailed in the last newsletter, we will not be electing a new board at the March General Meeting. The provisional agenda is as follows:

Deputy VestHarris County Precinct 1 Constable's office, will speak about the Constable Patrol Program. He'll highlight trends in activity observed around the neighborhood.

Staff from COH Public Works and the Planning and Development Department will deliver an overview of plans to reconfigure 11th Street, Pecore and Studewood, including the possibility of adding bike lanes.

The usual suspects will be on-hand to present the state of WHCA activities.

We hope to see you there!

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.

Remington typewriter 200px.png

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