Katy News

(Houston, May 25, 2017). Northwest Assistance Ministries (NAM) announced today the culmination of a dream come true with the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony of The Harrell Family Opportunity Center.

The Ribbon Cutting Ceremony of The Harrell Family Opportunity Center will take place on June 29, 2017 at 2:30 p.m. The building is named after the Harrell Family, one of NAM’s most committed supporters.

“The Harrells always believed in giving a hand up to neighbors in need without expecting anything in return,” explained Carole Little, NAM’s President and CEO. “Along with the Harrells’ generosity and vision, hundreds of other outstanding supporters are the reason why this building stands here today—because they believed in investing in our community’s future. We want to continue transforming lives and this new building is the first step toward that goal.”

The Harrell Family Opportunity Center is the crystallization of NAM’s Capital Campaign, Roots & Wings, which started in January of 2014. This campaign allowed NAM to raise $5,373,885 to start the construction of a new building that would expand NAM’s vocational training and job- readiness program through a robust training center for mid-skills jobs, thus allowing NAM clients to reach financial, professional and emotional independence.

The Harrell Family Opportunity Center will be fully-operational on the day of the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and clients can expect the same quality in vocational training that will allow them to pursue better-paying jobs. Adult education courses such as ESL and GED classes will continue to be taught at the Learning Center in NAM’s main building.

Behind every wall, every window and every brick laid at The Harrell Family Opportunity Center there are hundreds of donors, volunteers and employees that helped make this dream become a reality for NAM.

If you’d like to attend NAM’s Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, please RSVP by June 23, 2017 at events@namonline.org.

Northwest Assistance Ministries is a nonprofit, community-based social service agency that strives to meet basic human needs through Neighbors Helping Neighbors. NAM provides assistance in areas such as food, shelter, health, education and domestic violence awareness and intervention. In the last fiscal year, NAM touched the lives of more than 114,000 people through its many programs and services.

Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management Public Information Officer Francisco Sanchez has been advocating strategies to enhance public emergency communications since joining the county in 2004.

This week, StateScoop, a leading digital publication for innovators, technology experts and IT services providers, listed Sanchez as one of the Top 11 Public Safety Tech Leaders to Watch. According to StateScoop, the men and women in this list were chosen for their dedication to their work and their willingness to share it with the community at large for the betterment of their country.

“Harris County and its team is always proud to be recognized for its innovative approach to emergency public information, especially in the digital space,” said Sanchez. “We will continue collaborating with social scientists, the tech community, social media leaders and our community to be as cutting-edge as we can be.”

Timely information sharing between emergency managers, public safety organizations, the community, and media is critical during emergencies. Social media in particular has become a critical component of emergency preparedness, response and recovery.

“Embracing new technologies helps emergency management to connect, inform and ultimately save the lives of those impacted by disasters,” added Sanchez. “We should all be using all available resources to accomplish this mission.”

His commentary “Cutting through the noise” offers insight into Harris County’s emergency public information strategies.

Sanchez has been a featured speaker on these topics at SXSW, National Hurricane Conference, National Conference of State Legislatures, Texas Homeland Security Conference, Emergency Management Magazine Road Show, the National All-Hazard Incident Management Team Training & Education Conference, Texas State Firemen’s and Fire Marshal’s Conference, Smart Cities (Toronto) and other forums. In 2013, he was profiled as Emergency Management Magazine’s Major Player. In 2015, the University of Houston named Sanchez its Houston Public Official of the Year and also received the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his volunteer contributions, primarily in public safety.

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National Oilwell Varco (NOV) Grant Prideco has partnered with Blinn College to provide job training using a $820,365 Skills Development Fund grant from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). The grant will benefit workers in the Brazos Valley Texas area.

“The partnership between NOV Grant Prideco and Blinn College on this Skills Development Fund grant will benefit both the local community and its workforce,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “Our labor force is among the most talented and skilled in the world, and we continue to seek and implement strategies to improve the skills of Texas workers.”

This grant will be used to provide customized training to 395 new and incumbent workers for industry-related topics with focused instruction on manufacturing skills. Trainees will include welders, electricians and equipment operators. Upon completion of training, the workers will receive an average wage of $19.27.

Since its inception in 1996, the Skills Development Fund grants have created or upgraded more than 342,428 jobs throughout Texas. The grants have assisted 4,238 employers with their customized training needs. The Legislature allocated $48.5 million to the Skills Development Fund for the 2016-17 biennium. Employers seeking more information about the Skills Development Fund may visit the TWC website at www.texasworkforce.org/skills.


Here’s your opportunity to help Veterans change their lives. It just takes a few minutes, to share this information. Veterans who have received the no-cost legal services through our program, who were homeless at the time of the legal clinic, are now working and living in apartments after their legal issues were resolved with assistance from our program and the pro bono attorneys. One Veteran is now a firefighter after his criminal arrest record was expunged. Another Veteran who was homeless was able to obtain housing after his order of nondisclosure was granted.

Metroplex Veterans Legal Services is conducting a Veteran’s Expunction and Orders of Non-Disclosure Legal Clinic at Kirkland & Ellis LLP on June 7, 2017, at 4:00pm.  This clinic is a partnership with the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

An Expunction removes all records of an arrest and/or subsequent court case from the public record and the individual may legally deny or fail to acknowledge ever having been arrested for or charged with any crime which has been expunged. A record of an arrest without a conviction is a barrier for employment.  An order of nondisclosure is a legal remedy available to people who successfully complete deferred adjudication probation, in which a Texas court orders that your criminal history on a particular case be sealed from public view.  A criminal history can be a barrier for housing.

Metroplex Veterans Legal Services offers single issue legal clinics to Veterans on a pro bono basis.  Our legal clinics focus on removing the legal barriers to employment for Veterans, and assisting disabled Veterans to obtain military disability benefits. The goal of our clinics is to provide free legal counsel and advice to low income, unemployed, homeless, disabled, elderly, or at risk for homelessness Veterans for outstanding traffic tickets, warrants from tickets, and driver’s license issues caused by tickets; child support modification; expunction of criminal arrests; bankruptcy; consumer fraud; VA disability benefit appeals; and combat related special compensation. These unpaid traffic tickets, and delinquent child support can lead to suspended driver’s licenses, which can lead to barriers for these Veterans to obtain employment.

The pro bono legal resources for Veterans have been very scarce prior to the commencement of our program.  According to a recent Washington Post article, new research shows the one reason so many Veterans are homeless:  They can’t afford lawyers. The research shows that Veterans are losing their homes and missing out on crucial benefits because they lack legal aid. With nearly 50,000 Veterans sleeping on the streets each night, it’s clear we are failing to serve those who have served our country. But the solution isn’t as obvious as it might seem. Veterans don’t need simply more doctors and shelter beds; new research shows that Veterans need lawyers to fight on their behalf as well. According to a new study from the Department of Veterans Affairs, at least five out of the top 10 problems leading to homelessness among Veterans cannot be solved without legal help.  Our legal clinics address three of these unmet legal needs, for child support modification, restoring driver’s licenses, and legal assistance for warrants and fines.

The clinic will be held on June 7, 2017, at 4:00 pm, at the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis LLP.  The address is 600 Travis Street, Suite 3300, Houston, TX 77002.  The Veterans must register on-line in advance of the clinic at greaterhouston.veteranslegalservices.us.

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Cast rehearsing The Gingerbread Lady, Michele Broussard, Jack Strickland, Vanessa Morales-Knight, and Briana Moloney

June 2 through 4, Katy Visual and Performing Arts Center (KVPAC), Encore Players, Katy’s Award-Winning Community Theatre, will present The Gingerbread Lady, by Neil Simon, directed by Joshua Shorejs. Show times are June 2 and 3 at 8:00pm and June 4 at 2:00pm. Tickets are $18 for Adults, $15 for Seniors (55+) and Students, and $12 for groups of 10 or more.

The Gingerbread Lady is a dark drama with comic overtones centering on Evy Meara (Vanessa Morales-Knight), a cabaret singer whose career, marriage, and health all have been destroyed by alcohol.  We meet her at the end of a ten-week drying out period at a sanitarium when her best friend age-defying Toby (Michele Broussard), her daughter Polly (Briana Moloney), and Jimmy Perry (Jack Strickland), a gay actor try to help her adjust to sobriety with a jolly birthday party. Enter Lou Tanner, a former lover, who ends up giving her a black eye. The party is a wash out, the “gingerbread lady” falls off the wagon and hits the ropes once again.

Maureen Stapleton won Broadway’s Tony Award as Best Actress for the role of Evy Meara. Later, the play was rewritten by Neil Simon as the film Only When I Laugh starring Marsha Mason.

Director, Joshua Shorejs said, “in the The Gingerbread Lady, Neil Simon exhibits profound skill in playing for laughs, while drawing out the emptiness and sadness in the lives of the misfits he is adept at creating.”

Tickets are available online until noon on Friday, June 2 and then at the door one hour prior to show time. For more information, please visit the KVPAC website at www.shop.kvpac.org or call 281.829.2787.  KVPAC is a 501c3 non-profit arts education organization serving the Katy community since 2001. We are located at 2501 S Mason Rd, # 290, Katy, TX 77450 in the Great Southwest Equestrian Center Complex.

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This summer, Katy’s Cane Island will pair the live music sounds of local artists with award-winning wines, great-tasting craft beers and fun, food truck cuisine as the master-planned community presents the Cane Island Summer of Fun and Music with RadioKaty.

The summer-long music series starts in June with the easy-listening sounds of Sydney Bryant on Friday, June 9 followed by the soul, pop and rock tunes of Kalila on Saturday, June 24.

Both events, part of Cane Island’s Summer of Fun and Music, start at 7 p.m. in the community’s Amenity Village at 2100 Cane Island Parkway.

The music of Sydney Bryant, presented in the Amenity Village’s multi-purpose event space, will be paired with fine wines from the nearby Yellow Brick Road Winery.  Admission is $10 for Cane Island residents, $15 for non-residents.

Music by Kalila Atchley, backed by a dynamic, classically trained group, is free and open to the public, when guests can spread out a blanket on the Amenity Village lawn and enjoy complimentary beer tastings.  Food truck cuisine will be available for purchase.

To reach Cane Island, take the Cane Island Parkway exit off Interstate 10 minutes west of the Grand Parkway.  Head north on Cane Island Parkway and take the temporary detour into the community.

For a schedule of the remaining summer-long live music series in Cane Island, go www.CaneIsland.com/Events.

The 2016 GHBA Community of the Year, Cane Island presents new luxury homes from the $200s to the millions from CalAtlantic Homes, Coventry Homes, David Weekley Homes, Perry Homes, Shea Homes, Toll Brothers and Trendmaker Homes.  The community also offers the Estates at Cane Island, a gated custom home neighborhood featuring half-acre homesites and Houston’s first street pantries.

For more information and for e-mail updates from the community, go to www.CaneIsland.com.  Also follow Cane Island at www.Facebook.com/CaneIslandKatyTX and Instagram and Twitter @caneislandkaty.

Kalila Atchley, part of the Cane Island Summer of Fun and Music with RadioKaty



New book deals with topics about freedom from hindrances, developing personal relationship with God, others

Scharlotte Celestine believes God has done so much transformation within her that it is impossible to keep the testimonies of his goodness to herself. She feels an urgency to share her testimony with others. It led her to write “The Bride Set Free” (published by WestBow Press) which is based on her personal experience with God and what he has brought her through. The book is about preparing everyone for the return of Jesus. It deals with topics about freedom from hindrances and developing a relationship with God and others.  It is written to inspire readers to fulfill their God-given calling to share him with others.

The book begins with a vision of a heavenly proposal. In the vision, Jesus was standing before the ones he had come to save. His nail-scarred hands were spread open wide in invitation, and he asked, “Will you be mine? Will you let me into your heart to love and provide for you? Will you surrender to me and be my bride?” According to Celestine, she saw his beloved kneeling at his feet in complete surrender and asking him to be their king; and he said to them, “I must go away to make a place for you in my mansion, but I will return for my bride soon. I am not leaving you alone, but I give to you the Holy Spirit as a wedding planner to prepare my bride. He will wash you pure with my word, clothe you in robes of righteousness, and teach you the ways of my kingdom so you can come boldly before my throne on our wedding day.”

“My book is written from personal experience and revelation from God about freedom,” Celestine says. “It’s a testimony of how he has set me free and how others can experience the same freedom.”

Through the publication of “The Bride Set Free,” Celestine would like readers to be enlightened about the strategies of the enemy that will try to hold them back, how to be free from these hindrances and to have a deeper relationship with God.

“The Bride Set Free”

By Scharlotte Celestine

Hardcover | 6 x 9in | 286 pages | ISBN 9781512780369

Softcover | 6 x 9in | 286 pages | ISBN 9781512780352

E-Book | 286 pages | ISBN 9781512780345

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble


About the Author

Scharlotte Celestine grew up in Jacksonville. She is married to Jeffery and they have six children and four grandchildren. She is a member of Gateway Church in Southlake and has authored two other books titled “Kingdom Way” and “The Bride and The Sword.” She is a speaker for small town church events and Christian women’s events, sharing testimony of the goodness of God.

WestBow Press is a strategic supported self-publishing alliance between HarperCollins Christian Publishing and Author Solutions, LLC — the world leader in supported self-publishing. Titles published through WestBow Press are evaluated for sales potential and considered for publication through Thomas Nelson and Zondervan.  For more information, visit www.westbowpress.com or call (866)-928-1240. For WestBow Press news, click “Like” at www.facebook.com/WestBowPress and follow @westbowpress on Twitter.


Michelle Plummer announces release of ‘A Band of Bees’

Michelle Plummer knows of the fact that honey bees are dying at an unbelievable rate due to Colony Collapse Disorder. To address the issue by illustrating the effects of the disorder, Plummer decides to use her imagination and write a powerful book that would let every reader understand the situation.

In juvenile fiction book “A Band of Bees” (published by Xlibris), Plummer writes about two honeybee brothers. They discover a life outside their environment and found new friendships. However, Austin Lee thinks he and his troop have been poisoned by the flowers. Sean Michael is worried that his brother in trouble and he must find him alone. He meets a hornet that deserted his swarm. Austin Lee needs the hornet’s help and bonds a friendship more powerful than he imagined.

The author shares her inspiration in creating the book: “I was inspired to write about the honey bees and all of God’s creations. My children have been my biggest drive to create a story about two brothers who love each other so much they never stop trying to find their way back to one another!”

Plummer hopes that readers will enjoy her story and find the powerful message of never giving up on dreams and aspirations in life.

“A Band of Bees”

By Michelle Plummer

Softcover | 8.5 x 8.5in | 104 pages | ISBN 9781543416640

E-Book | 104 pages | ISBN 9781543416633

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble


About the Author

Michelle Plummer has been raised in Texas her whole life. She has been so deeply affected by the huge concern for the honeybees due to the Colony Collapse Disorder, thus leading her down this path to write a story about two brothers that never give up on each other and never stop believing. She has written “A Band of Bees” in dedication to her children Heather Linn, Austin Lee and Sean Michael, and her grandson Dexter.

Xlibris Publishing, an Author Solutions, LLC imprint, is a self-publishing services provider created in 1997 by authors, for authors. By focusing on the needs of creative writers and artists and adopting the latest print-on-demand publishing technology and strategies, we provide expert publishing services with direct and personal access to quality publication in hardcover, trade paperback, custom leather-bound and full-color formats. To date, Xlibris has helped to publish more than 60,000 titles. For more information, visit xlibris.com or call 1-888-795-4274 to receive a free publishing guide. Follow us @XlibrisPub on Twitter for the latest news.


29 children and teens have drowned in Texas this year


Memorial Day Weekend marks the beginning of summer, but also the start of the most dangerous period for child drownings – Memorial Day through Labor Day.  Last year, 107 kids and teens drowned in Texas and 29 have already drowned so far this year. While the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth areas have been trouble spots in the past, there is no dominant pattern this year.

The Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) urges Texans to “watch kids around water” this holiday weekend and all summer long to prevent more tragedies.

“Drowning is totally preventable, but it is also silent and very quick,” said Sasha Rasco, who leads DFPS prevention programs. “It only takes a few minutes for a child to drown. So, please be a lifeguard for every child around you by keeping a constant eye on them around water.”

Swimming pools, especially backyard and apartment pools, are the most dangerous for children. More than half of the child drownings in Texas this year happened in pools. Other common locations include lakes, ponds, and rivers and other natural bodies of water. Hot tubs and bath tubs are also culprits and almost any water can be dangerous to a toddler, even a toilet. Children under the age of one most often drown inside the house, while older children most often drown outdoors.  Most toddlers who drown are out of sight less than five minutes.

DFPS is working to get the word out to parents to “watch kids around water” as part of its Help for Parents, Hope for Kids campaign. DFPS is running a $1,000,000 ad campaign aimed at parents. From April through August, some of those ads are water safety messages. As a result, Texans watched the campaign’s water safety video on Facebook 141,503 times in April alone.

For more statistics and information on water safety for kids, visit WatchKidsAroundWater.org or look for the Water Safety section on HelpandHope.org.


Basic Water Safety Tips

Inside the house

  • Never leave small children alone near any container of water.
  • Keep bathroom doors closed and secure toilet lids with lid locks.
  • Never leave a baby alone in a bath for any reason. Get the things you need before running water, and take the child with you if you must leave the room.
  • Warn babysitters or caregivers about the dangers of water and stress the need to constantly supervise young children.
  • Make sure small children cannot leave the house through pet doors or unlocked doors and reach pools or hot tubs. 
Outside the house
  • Never leave children alone around water whether it is in a pool, wading pool, drainage ditch, creek, pond, or lake.
  • Constantly watch children who are swimming or playing in water. They need an adult or certified lifeguard watching and within reach.
  • Secure access to swimming pools with fences, self-closing and latching gates, and water surface alarms.
  • Completely remove the pool cover when the pool is in use.
  • Store water toys away from the water, when not in use, so they don’t attract a small child.
  • Don’t assume young children will use good judgment around water.
  • Be ready for emergencies. Keep emergency telephone numbers handy and learn CPR.
  • Find out if your child’s friends or neighbors have pools.

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Memorial Day Super Sale Offers Hot Deals and Steals for Summer 

Kick off the summer season in style with four days of unbeatable savings during Katy Mills’ Memorial Day Super Sale from May 26 – 29, offering the very best deals from the center’s already 70% off reduced prices.

All weekend long, bargain hunters and fashion lovers will find unsurpassed discounts on spring merchandise and summer’s hottest looks from Katy Mills’ 175 brand-name retailers, including Neiman Marcus Last Call, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH, Coach Factory Store, Forever 21, Banana Republic Factory Store, Polo Ralph Lauren Factory Store, J.Crew Factory, H&M and kate spade new york.

Have a summer vacation planned? Bring the whole family to find resort-style looks or sleep-away camp basics for everyone. Katy Mills provides an unbeatable shopping experience for the entire family this holiday weekend. Not only does the center offer an incredible selection of value priced and exciting outlet stores; but also offers dining and family entertainment like Rainforest Café and AMC 20 Theatres.

For more information call (281) 644-5015, visit katymills.com or follow Katy Mills’ Memorial Day Super Sale Weekend on www.facebook.com/shopkatymills.