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Jack Cagle, Deborah January-Bevers, and Dick Benoit to receive 2017 Terry Hershey Bayou Stewardship Awards at the association’s annual award luncheon May 8

The Bayou Preservation Association will recognize three representatives of the public, nonprofit, and private sectors of the community for their outstanding commitment to aiding in the conservation, preservation, restoration or advocacy of Houston’s waterways with the Terry Hersey Bayou Stewardship Award at the association’s annual award luncheon May 8 at the Junior League of Houston.

The three honorees are Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner R. Jack Cagle, Houston Wilderness President & CEO Deborah January-Bevers, J.D., and Texas Master Naturalist and environmental services consultant Dick Benoit.

Founded 51 years ago by Houston resident Terry Hershey and other individuals concerned with protecting Houston’s bayous, the Bayou Preservation Association is dedicated to protecting, restoring and celebrating the natural richness of all of our region’s bayous and streams, through stewardship, leadership, education and outreach.

For more information about the luncheon, to become a sponsor, or to purchase a ticket, go to or call 713-529-6443.

About the Award Recipients

Jack Cagle, an attorney and former judge who is serving his second four-year term as a Harris County commissioner, is being recognized for leading Precinct 4 in developing a number of innovative projects, including the Spring Creek Greenway, the largest urban greenway in the United States, and the Birnamwood Drive roadway, the first project in the state to employ low impact development principles for storm water management.   An avid hiker and paddler, he also has a following for his “Lewis and Clark Adventures,” leading groups on walks and paddling trips down many miles of bayou greenways.

Deborah January-Bevers, President & CEO of Houston Wilderness, is being honored for her more than 30 years of working to improve the environment and quality of life in Houston and Texas.  She was extensively involved in the planning of the Bayou Greenways 2020, a public/private partnership establishing trails and open spaces along 250 miles of 10 waterways that was approved by Harris County voters in 2012.  In addition, she has been instrumental in developing the Gulf-Houston Regional Conservation Plan to protect and restore native grasslands or woodlands in the 50 watersheds with streams flowing into Galveston Bay.

Dick Benoit, who served as a volunteer water quality monitor for 14 years, established the Wetland Restoration Team with the Texas Coastal Watershed Program that engages volunteers in wetland restoration projects.  A statewide leader within the Texas Master Naturalist Program, Benoit is the first person in the State of Texas to have achieved 15,000 hours of volunteer service in the program.  In 2001, he founded the Galveston Bay Area Master Naturalist Training Program, which has trained more than 400 volunteers and 125 teachers.  He also has served as a bayou interpreter on Armand Bayou Nature Center’s boat trips for the public – a program he expanded by teaching other volunteers to serve as boat trip educators.


On Saturday, April 8, over 3,500 Houston-area residents participated in the fifth annual Texas Children’s Hospital and Houston Marathon Foundation Family Fun Run at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. Families with children of all abilities were on hand for the non-competitive 1K and 3K courses. Following the race, participants enjoyed the Family Fun Zone, presented by H-E-B, which featured more than 40 attractions including food, refreshments, activities and games.

By Keith Randall, Texas A&M Marketing and Communications

Texas A&M University opened its new Human Clinical Research Facility (HCRF) on Tuesday, and the building will be home to some of the world’s leading research and education in human health, performance, nutrition and well-being.

“This facility will be a world leader in innovation and research, and the knowledge created from it will influence generations to come,” noted U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, a 1976 Texas A&M graduate.

“The investments we make in buildings such as this are investments going forward and they are critical to Tier 1 universities such as Texas A&M.  I am especially interested in it because I am among the age group they will be studying here.”

Added Texas A&M President Michael K. Young, “This is a vision that has come to fruition.  The collaboration among the colleges, researchers and students will produce knowledge that will benefit people around the world.  Such a facility as this is central to all we do.”

The 21,518-square-foot facility has been developed to provide a centralized research facility for clinical researchers to conduct much-needed human clinical research trials.  The building includes an exercise training and rehabilitation core to conduct supervised endurance and resistance-exercise based training and rehabilitation programs for healthy individuals or individuals with disease under medical supervision;  an exercise physiology and body composition core for research in nutrition, exercise and clinical intervention assessments and research trials; a clinical research unit consisting of a 12-bed overnight stay unit to run 24/7 human clinical trials, a nurses’ station and a metabolic kitchen for nutritional studies; a compounding unit to prepare medicines for human use; a mass spectrometry and analytical core for comprehensive in-depth analysis of metabolic, nutritional, and clinical markers; and an education unit to provide an open environment for education, collaboration, and student mentoring.

HCRF organizers note that a critical goal of the facility will be improving the lives of individuals and entire communities for a healthier Texas and world.

“We hope to change lives of people for years to come,” said Joyce Alexander, dean of the College of Education and Human Development.

“We want to create new knowledge and new futures, and this facility will be among the best in the world for research and education.”

The HCRF houses two primary research groups from the Department of Health & Kinesiology in the College of Education and Human Development — the Exercise and Sport Nutrition Laboratory (ESNL) and the Center for Translational Research in Aging and Longevity (CTRAL). The ESNL was developed in 1997 under the direction of Richard Kreider and focuses on the role of exercise and nutrition on health, disease, rehabilitation and performance. The CTRAL was developed in 2006 under the direction of Nicholaas Deutz and Marielle Engelen and concentrates on nutrition, exercise and metabolism in relation to aging and the common diseases of the country’s aging population.

“We know that exercise and nutrition are two keys to human health, and we will be leaders in these areas,” added Kreider.  “Aggies are bold and have a vision and they lead by example, and a facility like this will help people have a better quality of life.”

More information about the facility can be found on the HCRF website. 

By Lesley Henton, Texas A&M University Marketing & Communications

Prospective students, curious parents or anyone else who wants to see the historic campus of Texas A&M University, no matter where they are in the world, can with Xplorer Virtual Tour by concept 3D.

The university launched the platform last month at South By Southwest, transporting users from Austin to College Station in virtual reality.

Now the software is available for anyone to experience Aggieland at their own pace, in a 360-degree panorama making for an exciting virtual experience, says Texas A&M Senior Graphic Designer Michael Green.

“It puts you right into the action and provides the ability to explore and get a feel for the Texas A&M campus in a way that gets visitors and prospective students really excited about what we offer as a university,” Green notes. “Aside from prospective students, I can see current students, faculty and staff, parents and especially former students loving how they can get immersed in Aggieland from wherever they are. Xplorer is a really fun and compelling way to see Texas A&M up close, in virtual reality, and at your own pace.”

Try it out here

More information, images and links to experience Xplorer Virtual Tour


WPA Research, a leading research and data analytics firm, this week issued a new report detailing the strength of support for school choice across a majority of Texas House and Senate Districts.

According to the results published online, WPA’s analyses show that most state legislators who voted against school choice (either by voting against SB 3 in the Senate, or against budget amendments 8 and 9 in the House), voted directly against the will of their constituents, who have shown overwhelming support for expanding educational options for parents.

WPA started by collecting 5,000 responses from registered voters in Texas before applying predictive analytic machine learning techniques to assign probability scores for each individual registered voter to measure their support for school choice.

Key findings of WPA’s analysis include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Voters support school choice in every Texas Senate district;
  • The average level of support for school choice across all State Senate Districts in Texas is 63%;
  • The highest ratio of support comes from Senate District 31 (Seliger, R-Amarillo);
  • The average level of support for school choice across State House Districts in Texas was also 63%;
  • The highest ratio of support came from House District 86 (Smithee, R-Amarillo).

Texans for Education Opportunity chair and co-founder Stacy Hock issued the following statement regarding the report:

“School choice is supported by a majority of Texans from all corners of the state. Texans deserve to have their voices heard. It is time for legislators to do what is right for Texas parents and the generations of students who would benefit from having a school choice program.”

The full text of the report, as well as a breakdown of data by members who voted against school choice and are at odds with their constituents, can be found here.

To learn more about Texans for Education Opportunity, visit our website,




U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) commended President Trump for his suspension, announced last week, of three flawed surveys conducted along the Red River by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that led to the attempted unconstitutional seizure of tens of thousands of acres of private property.

“This is a real victory for the State of Texas,” Sen. Cruz said. “For years under the Obama administration, innocent farmers, ranchers, and families faced unconstitutional affronts to their property and harassment from federal officials. I commend the President for recognizing Texas’ sovereign right to its borders as well as the private property rights of Texans.”

“I applaud the Trump Administration for stepping in to protect Texas landowners where the previous Administration refused,” said Sen. Cornyn. “Texans along the Red River should not be subject to the seizure of property they rightfully own, and Congress must now work to pass a solution that protects their rights.”

Sens. Cruz and Cornyn joined an amicus brief in Aderholt, et al. v. Bureau of Land Management, et. al., along with Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and 20 members of the Texas House delegation, to stand with Texas landowners against attempted unconstitutional land seizures by the federal government.  They also introduced the Red River Gradient Boundary Survey Act, which would authorize the necessary gradient boundary survey of the 116-mile stretch of the Red River between Texas and Oklahoma.




Tours manufacturing facility in Denton and visits with employees

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today visited the Peterbilt Motors Company’s heavy-duty truck manufacturing plant in Denton. There, he met with executives and employees over lunch to hear their concerns and listen to their ideas on what can be done in Washington to further expand economic opportunity and reduce the burden of federal regulations on manufacturers across Texas.

“I was delighted to have the opportunity to visit the folks here at Peterbilt,” Sen. Cruz said. “My number one priority in the Senate from day one has been jobs and economic growth. And that’s true for a very simple reason: that’s the top priority for the hardworking men and women of Texas. Texas is home to some of the most innovative and successful companies in the world because we’ve embraced commonsense, free-market values that promote prosperity. I am committed to applying those same values in Washington and will continue to fight to tear down barriers to growth and opportunity for Texans.”

Based in Denton, Texas, Peterbilt Motors Company has for nearly 80 years developed a global reputation for industry-leading design, innovative engineering and fuel-efficient solutions. In addition to meeting with employees, Sen. Cruz toured the factory floor and had the opportunity to drive a brand new Peterbilt semi on the facility’s test track.

Photos and video of Sen. Cruz’s visit may be viewed here.


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The Central Fort Bend Chamber welcomed Sam’s Driving School – Richmond at their new Fort Bend County location at 902 FM 359 in Richmond, TX. Chamber Staff and Ambassadors, guests and family members took part in the ribbon cutting ceremony, enjoyed networking and learned of the available services offered for drivers.

Sam’s Driving School is a family owned business offering both Teen and Adult Programs. Sam Hamman, Owner of Sam’s Driving School, spoke about his commitment to developing safe, confident and engaged drivers. His program teaches good habits to ensure attention is given to the total traffic scene. Mr. Hamman stated, “Our main mission is to create drivers who are courteous on the road and not aggressive”. “We want drivers to understand that driving is a privilege and not a right”. Mr. Hamman went on to thank the Chamber and expressed his excitement of growing his business in Fort Bend County.

For more information, visit their website at:

The Central Fort Bend Chamber is a 106 year old non-profit membership organization dedicated to creating a strong local economy where businesses can prosper. The Central Fort Bend Chamber advocates for over 1,000 local businesses led by a volunteer board of directors who are dedicated to sustaining Fort Bend County’s quality of life, and keeping our community and economy vibrant.

For more information on the Chamber or its programs, call 281-342-5464 or visit

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The Central Fort Bend Chamber celebrated the grand opening of Farmers Insurance – Fenina Flink Agency with a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, Wednesday, April 12, 2017 and welcomed the agency owner, Fenina Mayuga Fink to the Chamber family. Farmers Insurance is located at 7850 West Grand Parkway South, Suite, 600 in Richmond.  Friends, Farmers Insurance partners, local businesses and Chamber members delightedly welcomed Fenina Flink and her staff members during the ceremony.

Fenina Flink prides herself on her and her staff’s superior customer service, “We are here to serve you.  If we don’t know the answer to something, we will find the resource for you,” says Flink.  Fenina has extensive knowledge and experience to help you better understand your coverage options – whether that’s auto, home, renters insurance, business insurance and more.  Fenina expressed her sincere gratitude for the Central Fort Bend Chamber stating, “We thank you for all that you do within the community and I am very happy to be a part of it”.

Farmers Insurance Group is a leading United States insurer of automobiles, homes and small businesses and also provides a wide range of other insurance and financial services products. Farmers Insurance is proud to serve more than 10 million households with more than 20 million individual policies across all 50 states through the efforts of over 50,000 exclusive and independent agents and approximately 22,000 employees.

For more information, visit their website at:

The Central Fort Bend Chamber is a 106 year old non-profit membership organization dedicated to creating a strong local economy where businesses can prosper. The Central Fort Bend Chamber advocates for over 1,000 local businesses led by a volunteer board of directors who are dedicated to sustaining Fort Bend County’s quality of life, and keeping our community and economy vibrant.

For more information on the Chamber or its programs, call 281-342-5464 or visit


Feeding Texas and State Representative Helen Giddings (D-Dallas) highlighted growing concern over “school lunch shaming” this week by urging passage of HB 2159, a bill defining minimum standards for Texas schools when a student’s lunch account runs out of funds.

“Children should never be shamed when their family falls on hard times,” said Celia Cole, CEO of Feeding Texas.”If a family loses the ability to pay for lunch their child should receive care and concern, not a cheese sandwich.”

The New Mexico legislature recently passed a similar law, prompting widespread attention on social media and fundraising efforts to cover student lunch balances in cities across the nation, including Austin.

“In Texas schools today, students who experience economic struggles at home face them in the lunch line as well,” said Rep. Giddings. “When parents have not deposited funds in their lunch accounts, students have their chosen lunch taken away and replaced by a cold, sack lunch. Students are often too young to understand. They do not know why they are being treated differently and often are taunted and bullied by other students. Afterwards, some are afraid to go through the lunch line – pretending they are not hungry.

“This ‘Lunch Shaming” needs to stop. I have filed HB 2159 to address this situation and ensure that every Texas child is well-nourished and focused on their education, not their next meal. Let us leave finances to the adults and keep our kids focused on actualizing their wildest dreams.”

Texas law requires schools to provide a grace period to students whose accounts run out of funds, but no guidelines exist to ensure that the child will not be stigmatized with lower-quality food or public identification in the lunch-line. Current law also does not specify the steps schools must take to contact the family to determine whether the child may have become eligible for free or reduced-price meals. HB 2159 would address these deficiencies in the law to ensure students can continue to eat and are not shamed for their family’s economic situation.

Per federal law, students whose families earn less than 130% of the poverty line (about $32,000 annually for a family of 4) are eligible to receive free lunches, while children whose family income is between 130% and 185% of the poverty line pay a reduced-price.

When a family whose child normally receives reduced-cost or full-price meals can no longer afford to pay, children may have their meals taken away from them in the lunch line with no advance warning or attempt to contact the family. In addition to shaming the child, it is well documented that children cannot learn when they are hungry.

Giddings and Feeding Texas are seeking a hearing from the House Public Education Committee as soon as possible to address the issue.

Feeding Texas leads a unified effort for a hunger-free Texas. Learn more and find your local food bank at