SERVICE DOG

Hunter Schaper of Brenham is a sweet, loving twelve-year-old boy who struggles daily with autism. Hunter’s struggles would be greatly reduced with the aid of a service dog. As a result, Hunter’s mother, Leslie Schaper, is running an online fundraising campaign on RedBasket.org in hopes of raising the $10,200 needed to purchase a service dog.

Hunter was diagnosed with autism at the age of three, and continues to feel the effects of the disease today. “Due to Hunter being so active and a wanderer, I researched service or companion dogs,” said Leslie. “I came to the conclusion that this was something Hunter needed and could benefit him as well as our family.”

The aid of a service dog would provide Hunter with more independence and allow the family to partake in more activities together. The service dog would also be able to alert the family when Hunter wanders off, which is a significant concern to Leslie.

Hunter was recently approved for a service dog through Retrieving Freedom, Inc. (RFI) based in Waverly, Iowa. RFI breeds and trains its service animals for placement with veterans, children with autism, and children with diabetes.

In order to participate in RFI’s program, Hunter and his family need to raise the $10,200 needed to train the service dog and travel to Iowa to get the dog. As a result, the Schaper family is running an online fundraising campaign through Red Basket, a nonprofit crowdfunding site sponsored by WoodmenLife. Every penny donated will go directly to the family to help Hunter get his service dog. No fees are charged to donors when giving through Red Basket. To support Hunter with your tax deductible donation, visit RedBasket.org/694.

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Burlington Stores, a leading national off-price retailer, has announced today that it will open a new 50,000 square foot store in fall 2016. The new Burlington will be located at the Westlake Marketplace in Houston, TX. This opening will bring approximately 50-100 new jobs to the Houston community and will be one of the 61 Burlington locations in the state of Texas.

“We are thrilled to open a new Burlington in the Houston community, bringing even more jobs to the neighborhood and providing local residents with a valued shopping experience,” says Tom Kingsbury, chairman and CEO, Burlington Stores.

LOCATION

Westlake Marketplace

Northwest Corner of Beltway 8 and West Lake Houston Drive

Houston, TX

STORE FACTS

§ Opening fall 2016

§ 50,000 square feet

§ The store will feature ladies’ apparel, accessories, menswear, family footwear, children’s clothing, a broad assortment of furniture and accessories for baby at Baby Depot, home décor and gifts, and the largest selection of coats in the nation at up to 65 percent off department store prices every day.

§ Burlington’s store design allows for a clean, simple and attractive shopping experience for our customers, making it easy to navigate the store to find our great assortment of brand name merchandise.

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES

This new Burlington store will hire for approximately 50-100 new jobs. As summer approaches, interested candidates can visit Burlington’s website for more information about employment opportunities.

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The Houston Independent School District and University of Houston are joining forces to offer a new teacher preparation program that aims to bring HISD’s brightest students back into the classroom upon their college graduation.

Through the Teach Forward Houston fellowship program, HISD graduates interested in obtaining a degree in education are eligible for free tuition at University of Houston in exchange for teaching four years in HISD after graduation.

“Teach Forward Houston will benefit our communities by bringing highly qualified teachers into the classroom,” said Robert McPherson, dean of the UH College of Education. “The students participating in the program will have the opportunity to study in a Tier One institution, receive the top quality training and ongoing support they need to be successful in the classroom and graduate with little-to-no debt.”

The program is designed to provide higher education access to bright, motivated students who might not be able to afford college otherwise. It also ensures HISD classrooms are staffed with talented, highly effective teachers who know the district and are driven to make a positive impact on its students.

Fellows have the opportunity to earn a degree in teaching and learning, a UH program specifically designed to equip teachers with the skills they need to be successful in large, diverse, urban school districts. They also will receive additional professional development and internship opportunities, as well as coaching and mentoring throughout the fellowship.

“This program is going to have far-reaching effects,” said HISD Superintendent Terry Grier. “Our graduating seniors won’t just have the opportunity to get free college tuition, they’ll have the opportunity to come back and make a difference in the lives of countless children across the district.”

Applications are being accepted now, with up to 100 students expected to attend UH this fall. Interested students should have a good academic record and grade point average, a history of participation in extracurricular activities and service in leadership roles, and a deep desire to give back to their community through education.

All prospective Teach Forward Houston fellows must fulfill admission requirements for University of Houston prior to being accepted into the Teach Forward Houston program. Students also must submit a free application for federal student aid — more commonly referred to as FAFSA — by March 3.

HISD will supplement scholarship and financial aid packages to ensure all tuition is covered for students who are accepted into the university and the program. In return, the students must commit to teaching four years in an HISD elementary or middle school.

Other standard college costs — including housing, food, fees, and books — are not included in tuition. Students will be required to re-pay their tuition assistance for any portion of their teaching commitment that is not fulfilled.

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The FBI Violent Crime Task Force needs the public’s help to identify and locate four men who robbed tellers at a bank inside a Houston Gallery Furniture store at gunpoint Thursday night.  The FBI is releasing bank surveillance photos of the suspects.  There is a Crime Stoppers reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to their arrest.         

At 7:10 p.m., four men in a white Ford F-250 stolen pick-up truck pulled up to the Gallery furniture store located at 6006 North Freeway in Houston, Texas.  Three men got out of the truck and walked up to the store.  The first suspect held open the Gallery door and stood watch outside the store, while two armed men entered the furniture store and then entered the Woodforest Bank located inside the store.  One of the men remained in the lobby of the bank with his gun drawn and verbally ordered tellers to open their cash drawers, while the second suspect jumped the counter and grabbed cash from several teller drawers. The man stuffed the cash inside a turquoise and brown drawstring bag he was carrying.  All three men exited the bank in the same white Ford F-250 driven by a getaway driver.  The vehicle had Louisiana plates, but was reported stolen out of Northeast Houston the day before the robbery.  The stolen vehicle was abandoned a short distance away from the Gallery furniture store and recovered by law enforcement officers shortly after the robbery.  The robbers got away with an undisclosed amount of cash.  No one was physically hurt during the robbery.

The driver of the Ford F-250 truck was described as a short, Hispanic male with curly hair.  The three men who exited the vehicle were described as black males.  The first suspect who held the door open and remained outside the Gallery store wore a gray hooded shirt with black horizontal stripes, khaki pants and yellow rubber or latex gloves.  The second suspect who remained in the lobby of the bank giving verbal orders was approximately 5’8” to 5’9” tall, 180 – 190 pounds with a small to medium build.  According to witnesses, he sounded young and wore a dark beanie hat, yellow rubber or latex gloves and a black hooded sweatshirt with the lettering “And1” in gray or silver on the front of the shirt.  He was armed with a black pistol he held in his right hand.  The third suspect who jumped the teller counters and grabbed the cash was described as a shorter man weighing about 170 – 180 pounds with a slim build.  According to witnesses, he was more respectful and quiet and replied “It’s O.K. Ma’am,” when a victim teller was unable to open one of the drawers.  He wore a gray hooded sweatshirt with purple horizontal stripes, black pants, black and white sneakers, gray gloves and orange boxers or shorts underneath his pants.  This suspect carried a turquoise and brown drawstring bag during the robbery.

Investigators are also looking for the driver of a black Dodge Challenger that was behind the Ford F-250 stolen truck as it drove through the parking lot and pulled up to the front of the Gallery furniture store.  The driver of the Challenger may be an important witness in the case.

Crime Stoppers of Houston  is offering up to $5,000 for information leading to the charging and arrest of the bank robbers.  If you have information about this case, please call the Crime Stoppers tip line at 713-222-TIPS (8477), or the FBI Houston Field Office at (713) 693-5000. Text TIP610 plus your tip to CRIMES (274637), or visit www.crime-stoppers.org.  All tipsters remain anonymous.

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U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that a federal jury has convicted former Houston Police Officer NOE JUAREZ, age 47, of conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine hydrochloride and conspiracy to possess firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense.

According to evidence presented at trial, Juarez, a veteran Houston Police officer, became involved with an international drug conspiracy that reached into the Eastern District of Louisiana. The conspiracy, spearheaded by brothers Efrain and Sergio Grimaldo, distributed thousands of kilograms of cocaine throughout the United States. The drugs were supplied to the conspiracy by the Los Zetas drug cartel. Juarez played a pivotal role by providing law enforcement sensitive information, including running license plates and sharing police tactics and activities with conspirators. Juarez further supplied vehicles, body armor, and semi-automatic handguns and assault rifles to the conspirators, some of which ended up among senior cartel leaders in Mexico.

The conspiracy to distribute cocaine conviction carries a sentence of ten years to life imprisonment, followed by a minimum of five years of supervised release, and up to a $10,000,000 fine.  The conspiracy to possess firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense carries a maximum penalty of twenty years imprisonment, followed by a maximum of three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.  U.S. District Judge Sarah S. Vance set sentencing on April 20, 2016.

“A once proud member of the Houston Police Department, Noe Juarez breached his oath to protect and serve by providing weapons and other resources to known violent drug traffickers,” stated U.S. Attorney Polite. “This conspiracy’s conduct resulted in drugs and firearms ending up on the streets of Houma, Louisiana.  Today’s guilty verdict ensures that Juarez will now face a lengthy jail sentence for his crimes.  In addition, this prosecution reaffirms our commitment to fighting violence and corruption in Southeast Louisiana.”

“Law enforcement officers take an oath to work for the public good. The crimes committed by Noe Juarez are a slap in the face to the vast majority of law enforcement across the globe who are dedicated to taking down violent drug trafficking organizations. Those who commit such crimes are not worthy to stand among the ranks of the good men and women who wear their badges with pride in order to protect the citizens of this great country,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Brown.

  U.S. Attorney Polite praised the work of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) offices in New Orleans and Houston, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) in Houston, and the Houston Police Department Internal Affairs Division in investigating this matter and thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas for their assistance. Agents who assisted in the prosecution team included case agents William Johnson, DEA, and Jose Garcia, FBI, with assistance from agents and officers from DEA, Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”), and the Houston Police Department Internal Affairs Proactive Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys John F. Murphy, Theodore Carter, and James Baehr were in charge of the prosecution.

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After years of financial troubles the city of Brookshire, just down the road from Houston, has a pretty bright financial outlook.

Mayor Eric Scott says his goal was to put the city in the black after facing deficits when he took office in 2013.

Financial records show Scott has remained true to his promise with a surplus and an increase in capital projects around the city over the last three years.

So how did Scott do it?

He says, “we maintained fiscal responsibility and an eye on the future.”

Scott also says strategic planning played a huge role in the city’s financial resurrection.

The city of Brookshire ended this fiscal year with over $750,000 in the bank.

The year prior to Scott taking office the city was $12,000 in the hole.

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The Houston Independent School District Board of Education on Thursday approved a resolution that formally begins the process of renaming four schools in order to represent the values and diversity of the school district, in accordance with the district’s non-discrimination policies.

The resolution affects Henry Grady, Richard Dowling and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson middle schools, and Lee High School.

Under the resolution, each campus will be required to form a school-naming committee comprised of diverse staff, students, parents, and school stakeholders. That committee will be charged with exploring school renaming options that adhere to board guidelines and submitting recommendations to trustees by May.

In October, the board revised the district’s policy for naming and renaming school buildings and other district facilities. The updated policy outlined a process by which school board trustees may initiate the renaming of a facility, if they believe it to be in the best interest of the district.

HISD and the four schools will work together to ensure each school community has a voice in the decision-making process and recommends a name that represents the mission, spirit, culture and success of each campus.

Four other schools originally on the name change list — Albert Sidney Johnston and Sidney Lanier middle schools, and Jefferson Davis and John Reagan high schools — were pulled by the board Thursday night to allow trustees time to meet with their respective communities before moving forward.

Also on Thursday, the Board of Education considered several other proposals brought forward by outgoing Board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones:

· Approved the first reading of a policy revision banning suspensions and expulsions for students in second grade and below, except as required by law. The policy update includes provisions for a teacher mentoring system and annual classroom management and equity training for all campus-based faculty and staff. The training would focus on creating a positive school climate, preventing crisis and deescalating disciplinary issues.

· Approved a plan calling for the evaluation of attendance zone boundaries for all schools within HISD. The first phase of the plan will be to seek out an independent consultant who could help the district determine future needs based on current and anticipated population changes across the city.

· Approved new magnet programs at 10 HISD schools. Those programs include fine arts magnets at Atherton, Crockett, and Kashmere Gardens elementary schools; Dowling, Key, and Ortiz middle schools; and Kashmere and Westbury high schools. They also include STEM magnets at Hartsfield and Stevens elementary schools.

· Approved the development of magnet programs in four new areas: Careers; Business Development and Entrepreneurship; Public Interest Law and Advocacy; and Government Relations and Political Practice.

· Tabled consideration of a policy revision that would require schools to use their allocated funding to hire certain essential positions, such as counselors, librarians or nurses. The positions required for each school would be determined by district administration based on student population and grade levels at each campus. Trustees agreed to reconsider the issue in 30 days to give district administration time to study the issue and gather feedback from principals.

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Dan Patrick, Texas Lieutenant Governor, will report more than $7,500,000 cash-on-hand as of year-end 2015. This is more than any sitting Lieutenant Governor has ever reported for a similar period.

In the report that will be officially filed electronically tomorrow, Patrick will show having raised more than $3,500,000 between July 1 and December 31, 2015. This brings Patrick’s fundraising total to more than $5,600,000 since he has taken office and more than $22,400,000 since he first kicked off his campaign for Lieutenant Governor in 2013.

“Dan Patrick has raised more money from more donors and has more money in the bank than any Lieutenant Governor in Texas history for a similar reporting period,” said Allen Blakemore, chief strategist for the Texans for Dan Patrick campaign.

“Coming off a tremendously successful legislative session, the most conservative in Texas history, it’s been a pleasure to travel the state and meet with Texans who care about the future of our state and support our conservative priorities,” said Lieutenant Governor Patrick. “I think most agree that we have delivered in office on the promises I made on the campaign trail and I am very gratified by the support I have received since taking office.”

More information about Texans for Dan Patrick is available at www.DanPatrick.org.

MOST WANTED

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has added 58 year old Mark Timothy McBride to the Texas 10 Most Wanted Sex Offenders list, and a cash reward up to $3,000 is now being offered for information leading to his capture. McBride is wanted for failure to comply with sex offender registration requirements, parole violation and probation violation. All tips are guaranteed to be anonymous.

McBride has ties to the North Richland Hills/Fort Worth areas, and has previously lived in Pagosa Springs, Colo. Prior to absconding from the North Richland Hills area in 2011, McBride had expressed an interest in living and working in Alaska. In 2006, McBride was convicted in Tarrant County on three counts of indecency with a child/sexual contact for incidents involving two 16-year-old females. For more information or updates in the event of his arrest, see his wanted bulletin at: http://www.dps.texas.gov/Texas10MostWanted/SexOffenderDetails.aspx?id=314.

McBride is 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs approximately 250 pounds. He may wear glasses.

Texas Crime Stoppers, which is funded by the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division, offers cash rewards to any person who provides information that leads to the arrest of one of the Texas 10 Most Wanted fugitives or sex offenders.

To be eligible for the cash rewards, there are five different ways to provide anonymous tips:

Call the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-252-TIPS (8477).
Text the letters DPS – followed by your tip – to 274637 (CRIMES) from your cell phone.
Submit a web tip through the DPS website by selecting the fugitive you have information about, and then clicking on the link under their picture.
Submit a Facebook tip at http://www.facebook.com/texas10mostwanted by clicking the “SUBMIT A TIP” link (under the “About” section).
Submit a tip through the DPS Mobile App. The app is currently available for iPhone users on the Apple App Store: (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/texas-dps/id902092368?mt=8) and for Android users on Google Play: (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.microassist.texasdps&hl=en).

All tips are anonymous – regardless of how they are submitted.

DPS investigators work with local law enforcement agencies to select fugitives for the Texas 10 Most Wanted Fugitive and Sex Offender lists. You can find the current lists – with photos – on the DPS website at http://www.dps.texas.gov/texas10mostwanted/.

Do not attempt to apprehend these fugitives; they are considered armed and dangerous.

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The State Board of Education (SBOE) is now accepting nominations for the 2016 Student Heroes Award.

The Student Heroes awards program recognizes Texas public school students in prekindergarten through high school who do outstanding things to benefit their fellow Texas students.

SBOE Chair Donna Bahorich urged school leaders to nominate those students who are shining examples of good character and citizenship for their communities.

“We have so many wonderful students who give so much of their time to benefit Texas students, schools and communities,” Bahorich said. “These unselfish acts of kindness should be spotlighted and recognized by all.”
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One student per each of the 15 State Board of Education districts can be recognized for this annual honor. Anyone may nominate a public school student for the award. Award requirements include:

The service/assistance or good deed must be voluntary and not part of any curriculum, graduation requirements or class or community project.
The service/assistance or good deed must benefit other students in Texas, either individually or as a whole.
The benefit may be to students of one campus, a district or a community.

Recipients of the Student Heroes awards will be announced in May. A certificate of recognition will be awarded to the Student Hero by his or her State Board of Education member. The deadline for nominations is March 11.

Nomination forms and program guidelines are available at http://tea.texas.gov/About_TEA/News_and_Multimedia/Awards/Student_Heroes/ or for more information please email heroes@tea.texas.gov .

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton held a press conference to announce a new unit within the Texas Attorney General’s Office dedicated to combating human trafficking. This new unit will be headed by Deputy Criminal Chief Kirsta Leeburg Melton, an experienced prosecutor with an extensive background in combating human trafficking in Texas. The Human Trafficking and Transnational Organized Crime (HTTOC) section of the Texas Attorney General’s office will help to fight back against the horrific crime of human trafficking through investigations, prosecutions, training and raising awareness.

 

“Criminals steal many things from their victims, such as money, belongings and their sense of safety and well-being; but human trafficking is, simply put, the theft of a person’s very soul,” said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.“While trafficking is often associated with people from other countries, the victims of trafficking can and do come from anywhere, including right here in Texas.

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“Fortunately, through this new unit and through recent changes to the law, Texas is in a great position to make headway in the fight against trafficking, and we will take the fight to the doorstep of traffickers at every opportunity.”

 

The attorney general was joined at the press conference by state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., and Deputy Criminal Chief Kirsta Leeburg Melton of the HTTOC Unit.

 

“Every life is worth the fight,” said Melton. “No one is immune to the tragedy where children and adults are forced into modern day slavery. The fundamental goal of our new unit is to see that Texas becomes and remains a place where human life is not for sale.”

 

Sadly, Texas is at the heart of human trafficking in the United States. Houston has the highest number of trafficking victims in the nation, and Texas is the second highest in the nation for number of calls to the National Human Trafficking Resources Center.

 

The unit will provide the state with a new weapon in the fight against human trafficking, transnational gangs and organized crime syndicates that threaten the fundamental liberties of the people of Texas. This is even more critical since where you find those who are willing to profit from the buying and selling of human life, you find criminal networks who are equally as willing to deal in drugs, violence, arms dealing and smuggling. The unit will initially consist of five investigators, three lawyers, a forensic accountant and a victims’ advocate, dedicated to the rescue of victims and the investigation of criminal human trafficking across the state. 

 

To learn more about human trafficking and the work of the Texas Attorney General’s Office, please visit: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/cj/human-trafficking.