Category Archives: Houston News

Houston City Council Approves Changing Name of Local Park to Lorraine Cherry Nature Preserve

Photo Courtesy of Friends of West 11th Street Park

Story Provided by Chris Daigle

On June 9, Houston City Council unanimously passed the recommendation from Kenneth Allen, Interim Director of the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, to rename West 11th Street Park to Lorraine Cherry Nature Preserve. 

“The Parks Department is pleased to honor the memory of this outstanding Houstonian with the renaming of the park,” said Allen. ”When citizens like Dr. Cherry are invested in making their neighborhoods better, they do the work that needs  to be done to make it happen. That’s what Dr. Cherry did with this park, and because of her effort, we’re a much better city.”

Starting in 1998, Cherry and a group of volunteers coordinated with community leaders, local business leaders, government officials, and the Houston Parks Board in the nine year campaign to raise funds to purchase the property from HISD.

Bridge loans were secured to temporarily bring the property off the HISD auction block. Plans were in progress to sell the 20 acres for townhouse development or to build a campus for performing and visual arts. As early as the 1950’s, there was talk of putting a junior high school there.

Texas State Senator John Whitmire said, “Lorraine’s passion and dedication to West 11th Street Park inspired me to pursue state funding to purchase the remainder of the property and end the cliffhanger over the park’s future.”

District C Council Member Abbie Kamin noted, “This is a beautiful way to preserve her memory and dedication to improving our green space in the city of Houston.” 

Dr. Cherry’s community service was not limited to West 11th Street Park. She also served the Timbergrove Manor Civic Club as Chairperson for Environmental Affairs for over 10 years. She was a member of the Super Neighborhood Council 14, and Chair of Parks and Beautification. Cherry was a voice of reason and mediation for a wide range of community issues.

In addition, Lorraine acted as liaison for both the Super Neighborhood 14 and the Houston Parks Board toward the design of the Bayou Greenways and White Oak Bayou Gateway Trailhead. This three year project required many meetings discussing revisions and including community comments.

Beth White, President of Houston Parks Board, said, “West 11th Street Park is a true natural treasure that all of Houston can enjoy, and because of the efforts of Dr. Cherry and the community, we will be able to preserve this land for generations to come. 

Robert Delgado, Board Member of Friends of West 11th Street Park said, “Many, many people came together to make the purchase of the park happen. At any time the deal could have fallen through. Lorraine was the glue at several crucial points that held it all together. She was successful in this because she approached the key politicians with a kind heart.”

Dr. Cherry’s legacy is one of phenomenal dedication to the improvement of green spaces in Houston. The park now has several amenities to enjoy, such as a raised trail system and a wireless cellphone tour. The park is part of the Buffalo Bayou Loop in the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail. In 2017, after Cherry passed away, the community responded with 788 signatures on a petition to rename the park in her honor. 

Generations not yet born will continue to appreciate nature and learn about community service by the grass roots efforts of the neighborhood and Dr. Lorraine Cherry. 

For more information , visit the Friends of West 11th Park website at West11thStreetPark.org.

Source: Friends of West 11th Street Park

Here We Go Again, Astrodome!

By Chris Daigle

Since I’m doing things with one hand these days [after a stroke], I wondered what it would be like to work a Rubik’s Cube with one hand. Pretty difficult, I’d guess. 

That’s what it’s been like with Houston’s Astrodome. Ever since it shut down 20 years ago, lots of high-minded people have suggested what should be done with the place, now that every team has its own stadium with lots of luxury seating and a product name the Astrodome never had. 

Even with 20 years of ideas swirling around, and there have been some doozies, the Astrodome Conservancy will now poll the populace for new ideas on what to do with the abandoned Eighth Wonder Of The World that sits forlorn and forgotten, like that last puppy nobody wants to adopt.

Before you submit “turn the Astrodome into a 250 screen multiplex,” bear in mind that any renovation project has to be paid for with private money, since a public vote in 2013 failed. It has to be self-sustaining financially, oriented toward entertainment (versus a medical center) and must be supported by the public.

So far, the answer has been, “Good luck with that.” In 2013 there was an enthusiastic “Save The Dome” campaign ahead of a public ballot on a $217 million plan to make the Dome a convention center. After plenty of “No” votes, but with a good amount of “Yes”, the public didn’t want its tax dollars spent on the Dome – it would be like putting new fenders on a ’65 Chevy. Private investors have failed to step forward on any project to rescue the Eighth Wonder Of The World, including super billionaire Tillman Fertitta.

I’ll jump ahead and save you a lot of getting worked up, which you will do. I am one of you, cheering at the guardrail like a 1978 “Luv Ya’ Blue” Oilers fan with blue paint and an Oilers wig on, so I can predict what the ground breaking result of this will bring: Nothing.

The Astrodome is designated a “national Treasure” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It’s a State Landmark, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. At this rate, it might be on the Register Of Holes in the Ground.

The Texas Historical Commission has metaphorically lashed itself to the Astrodome like a tree hugger perched in a threatened oak tree. The Commission says, “Unless you have a good plan and good money behind an Astrodome plan, keep your mitts off the building and don’t even think of tearing it down.”

The Astrodome Conservancy has a website called, “Future Dome”, where the public is invited to submit ideas, once again, on what to do with the structure. Will they get more workable ideas than flooded Ed Emmett’s email box for twenty years? Time will tell. It’s hard to imagine what will come up that hasn’t been floated, or sunk, since the Dome shut its doors oh so long ago. It’s now a storage barn for the NRG stadium next door, as well as Harris County. It couldn’t have events anyway, since the seats were sold off five years ago.

Ideas are coming in faster than an Earl Campbell running play. There have been, and will be, plans on making it an indoor Astroworld, a movie studio, a Texas museum, a water park and there’s even a serious idea to dismantle the Battleship Texas and put it in there. Yes, really. 

Professional sports is out of the question, as now every sport (basketball, football, baseball, soccer, hockey and universities) have their own stadium with a product name and luxury seats. Well, maybe not cricket, bocci ball, golf, or jai alai, so there’s hope. The Harris County Commissioner’s Court set aside $105 million dollars from hotel fees and parking revenue in early 2018 to convert the Dome into an underground parking garage, with event space at ground level. The village in Houston exclaimed with glee, even holding a “Domecoming” in April 2018 to give us a last look at the 1965 Astrodome. 

That project went POOF when Lina Hidalgo was elected County Judge in late 2018. Suddenly, any Astrodome renovation was shelved. Hidalgo was more interested in flood relief, social issues, justice reform, and protecting voting rights. Now combined with a year long pandemic, the Astrodome may as well not exist. 

The Astrodome Conservancy leaders did meet recently with Hidalgo. They report that the Judge said, “Okay, come up with a solid plan for the Dome, and good financing, and we’ll talk about it someday.” Sounds like a blowoff to me, but before 1965, who but Roy Hofheinz could imagine a stadium with a roof? Would it surprise you to know that the Houston Rodeo and Houston Texans have never supported a Dome plan, though it would benefit both of them? They’d rather see it gone.

Meanwhile, the Astrodome, and billions of fan memories, lies in state 100 feet away from Houston’s trophy wife, NRG stadium. Ironically, a historic marker to the Dome was intentionally placed facing its replacement, like a symbolic fist raised in the air. There’s been so much propaganda that the Dome is not safe, but it’s perfectly sound. There’s also been so much hype that the Astrodome is a financial white elephant, yet it was paid for years ago.

There was so much noise when the 2013 vote was to tear the Dome down, Judge Ed Emmett said demolition MAY be an option. The media and public ran with it. 

The biggest idea for resuscitating the Dome that fits all the criteria of financial stability, sustainable income, and public support, is converting it into a casino and hotel and resort. That can’t happen because our state leaders are steadfastly against legalizing gambling. They are too busy telling us how and when to wear a mask. 

My enthusiasm for the Astrodome is hotter than a thousand suns, so is most of Texas, but this is getting old. Even for me. We go from being nervous about the future to overjoyed when a plan appears, then nervous again when that plan fails. This is a lot like the boy that cried wolf, but with a whole state.

In this day of new construction  everywhere, the irony is that it could happen for the Astrodome, but it doesn’t. Tillman Fertitta, super billionaire with a restaurant empire and hotels, also has made a name in entertainment venues in Galveston and Kemah. He’s bought the Houston Rockets franchise with $1.2 billion, with a B. The arena at the University of Houston now bears his name, replacing Hofheinz Pavillion. Tillman Fertitta is certainly no Roy Hofheinz, nor is he trying to be.

For now, we stand at the 50 yard line at the Astrodome to see which team gets to the goal: Renovation? Or tear it down? 

The scoreboard’s ticking. The writing’s on the wall.

Houston’s “Mattress Mack” Scores Big on the Super Bowl

I grew up in the Houston area and lived there most of my life. The TV commercial king in my younger years was Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, 69, of Gallery Furniture whose frequent tagline was his statement that, “Gallery Furniture really will…SAVE…YOU…MONEY!”

Mattress Mack in the 80’s

Watch an early Gallery Furniture commercial HERE.

McIngvale grew his furniture business from a few pieces covered by a tent to the giant it is today. Go furniture shopping and get free food from a buffet, a Subway sandwich, cookies and more. He’s come a long way!

McIngvale is notorious for “betting” with his customers regarding the Houston Astros, Rockets and Texans. His “bet” may be something like, “If the Astros win, your furniture purchase over $3,000 is free!” He is also known as a philanthropist and a frequent speaker about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), which one of his children struggles with.

Fast forward to Super Bowl LV. McIngvale flew to Colorado to bet over $3 million on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were the underdogs in the game vs. the Kansas City Chiefs.

Gallery Furniture also ran a promotion where customers who spent $3,000 or more on certain mattresses would get their purchase for free if the Buccaneers won.

The Grand Parkway location of Gallery Furniture

McIngvale profited $2.7 million from that bet.

Video of “Mattress Mack” discussing his winnings from KHOU.com

McIngvale released a statement that explained his choice. “Tampa Bay is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball and led by the greatest football player of all time in Tom Brady, so I’m betting big on the Bucs who have overcome tough matchups throughout this postseason,” he said.

One of the last times McIngvale made headlines in betting on sports was in 2017 when he offered his customers a refund of purchases totaling $3,000 or more if the Houston Astros won the pennant. That year, he had to refund more than $13 million, as the ‘Stros won the World Series.

So, congratulations to Mack and certain Gallery Furniture patrons for being big winners last Sunday!

McIngvale discusses his winnings

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is moving its Silicon Valley HQ to Houston

Governor Greg Abbott today announced that Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) will relocate its global headquarters to Spring, Texas from San Jose, California. The headquarters will be located in a new state-of-the-art campus that will open in early 2022, building upon the company’s established presence in the state of Texas. The company’s headquarters relocation to the Houston area holds the potential to add additional jobs to its already robust presence in Texas in the coming years.

HPE already has a significant presence across Texas, with locations in Austin, Plano, and Houston — the latter of which is home to more than 2,600 employees and is the company’s largest employment hub. HPE currently operates major product development, services, manufacturing, and lab facilities in Houston and Austin.

HPE is a global enterprise information technology company that helps customers drive digital transformation by unlocking value from all of their data. Built on decades of re-imagining the future and innovating to advance the way people live and work, HPE delivers unique, open and intelligent technology solutions, with a consistent experience across all clouds and edges, to help customers develop new business models, engage in new ways, and increase operational performance. The company was founded in 2015 following the separation from HP, Inc. It is currently ranked 109 on the list of Fortune 500 companies.

“We are excited that Hewlett Packard Enterprise has chosen to call Texas home, and I thank them for expanding their investment in the Lone Star State by relocating their headquarters to the Houston region,” said Governor Abbott. “Hewlett Packard Enterprise joins more than 50 Fortune 500 companies headquartered in the Lone Star State, including 22 in the Houston area alone. That is because Texas offers the best business climate in the nation. Our low taxes, high quality of life, top-notch workforce, and tier one universities create an environment where innovative companies like HPE can flourish. We look forward to a successful partnership with HPE, as together we build a more prosperous future for Texas.”

“As we look to the future, our business needs, opportunities for cost savings, and team members’ preferences about the future of work, we are excited to relocate HPE’s headquarters to the Houston region,” said Antonio Neri, CEO of HPE. “Houston is an attractive market to recruit and retain future diverse talent and where we are currently constructing a state-of-the-art new campus. We look forward to continuing to expand our strong presence in the market.”

“HPE’s headquarters relocation is a signature moment for Houston, accelerating the momentum that has been building for the last few years as we position Houston as a leading digital tech hub,” said Bob Harvey, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership, the economic development organization serving the Greater Houston area. “Houston has long been a hub for global innovation and offers leading tech companies a deep bench of digital and corporate talent to drive success. We are excited HPE leadership recognized this and look forward to welcoming the headquarters team to Houston.”

“It’s a smart relocation move for HPE to come to Texas, bringing their Corporate Headquarters to North Harris County! These are great 21st century jobs for Texans,” said Senator Paul Bettencourt.

“As one of the State Representatives for the Spring area, I am elated that Hewlett Packard Enterprise has chosen to relocate their new Global Headquarters to Spring. New business growth such as this is one of the primary economic drivers to look forward to in an area that will see tremendous job creation, providing new innovation and opportunity for our communities. HPE’s “state-of-the-art” facility will add another jewel to the crown that is our community and our home. With the impact this year of COVID on our local businesses, the addition of a world class technology headquarters will be a welcome indication of a brighter future,” said Representative Sam Harless.

In addition, Governor Abbott released a video to celebrate the announcement.

2 HPD officers shot at apartment complex on south side of Houston

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — Two Houston police officers were shot and a suspect has been arrested at an apartment complex Tuesday morning in southwest Houston, Chief Art Acevedo said.

A call came in around 9:30 a.m. from the Richmond Manor apartments in the 2600 block of Holly Hall and El Mundo, near Highway 288.

Initially, police reported that at least one officer had been shot. An ambulance was seen rushing to Memorial Hermann Hospital, where a massive police presence is outside.

We know at least one officer is being treated there. One of the officers was shot in the arm and is expected to survive.

Read more from ABC13…

75 Years Later, Local Veterans Reflect on World War II

By Catherine Wendlandt

After years of fighting and millions of deaths around the globe, on September 2, 1945, World War II officially ended, and the U.S. soldiers serving abroad on that day (out of a total of 16 million who supported the war effort overall) knew they would soon begin coming home. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of that debilitating conflict.

There are now only about 300,000 veterans left in the United States who witnessed firsthand what that war meant for their day-to-day lives.

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Read more from Houstonia Magazine…

Thief grabs woman’s butt, then robbed her at Houston Galleria Mall

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Crime Stoppers of Houston and the Houston Police Department’s Robbery Division need the public’s assistance identifying the suspect responsible for a theft at Galleria Mall.The Houston Police Department reports:

On Monday, August 17, 2020 at 3:43 pm, the complainant was traveling on the escalator into the Galleria Mall, located at 5175 Westheimer, in Houston, Texas. The complainant stated that she observed an unknown male on the escalator and behind her. The complainant stated that the suspect closed the distance between them and with both of his hands, groped her buttocks. The complainant immediately turned around to confront the suspect, at which time he grabbed her cellphone and ran down the escalator.

The suspect is described as a white male, 25-30 years old. 140-150 pounds. He wore an orange or red shirt and brown shoes.

Crime Stoppers may pay up to $5,000 for information leading to the charging and/or arrest of the suspect in this case. Information may be reported by calling 713-222-TIPS (8477) or submitted online at CrimeStoppers.org.

To watch the video of the crime, click HERE.

What we know about the 4 Houston police officers shot and 1 injured

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Photo: The Daily Beast

Two police officers are in critical but stable condition after being shot in the neck.

Overnight, HPD Chief Art Acevedo tweeted that those officers were out of surgery. Police sources told ABC13 they face a potentially long and difficult recovery.

Two others will remain hospitalized for observation, according to Chief Acevedo.

The injured officer who was shot in the shoulder was released from the hospital late Monday evening.

According to the Houston Police Department, the injured officers were transported to Memorial Hermann Medical Center hospital.

Read more from KTRK 13…

By Steven Devadanam

282627_originalThe already much-heralded University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has just scored global bragging rights. Jim Allison, a scientist at the revered health institute in Houston, has been awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, it was announced on October 1.

Allison, who is the chair of Immunology and executive director of the Immunotherapy Platform, is the first MD Anderson scientist to receive the world’s most coveted award for discoveries in the fields of life sciences and medicine.

Read more from CultureMap Dallas…

Rescue Pets and a Glamorous Crowd: A Princess and the Twins Speak Up for Homeless Pups

By Chris Daigle

Two very special animals, and those who worked to save them, came together on September 7 for the 14th Annual Fierce and Fabulous Soiree at the new Post Oak Hotel in Houston’s Galleria area.

Hosted by Houston Petset, an umbrella organization that provides grants to other animal non-profits in the greater Houston area, it was two rescue dogs from K-9 Angels Rescue that garnered most of the attention at the glam-filled event.

Kourtey Kadrich with Esperanza

Kourtney Kadrich with K-9 Angels Rescue poses with Esperanza, a black and white pit bull hoping for a forever home (Photo: Chris Daigle)

The goal of Houston Petset is to help those who are “in the trenches” on a daily basis, rescuing, spaying, neutering, fostering, adopting and protecting Houston’s animals. Houston Petset believes that the animal homelessness problem in our community has a solution.

There to greet the 400 party goers was Kourtney Kadrich and Esperanza, a young black and white pit bull, adoptable through K-9 Angels in Houston. “She was found on the streets, and K-9 Angels took over her care,’ said Kadrich. “We rescue about 1,000 a year. She was brought back to health, and she needs a forever home. She loves to cuddle and loves to be the center of attention.”

Sherry Sara with K-9 Angels Rescue in the Heights came with a cute fluffball named Einstein, who is about one year old, and available for adoption. Einstein adored all the attention and became friends with every guest in the room.

The program was emceed by KHOU Channel 11 Morning Show host Deborah Duncan. Faces in the crowd included Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and wife Gwen, former Astro Jeff Bagwell and wife Rachel, Sue and Lester Smith, Courtney Hopson, Neal Hamill of Carnan Properties, Joanne King Herring, Courtney and Bill Toomey, Frances Moody, Vivian Wise, and KPRC weathercaster Frank Billingsley.

Idential twins Tama Lindquist and Tena Lindquist Faust

Identical twins Tama Lindquist and Tena Lindquist Faust discuss the mission and accomplishments of Houston Petset (Photo: Chris Daigle)

The high energy gala chairs this year were identical twins Tama Lindquist, and Tena Lindquist Faust. Co-Chairing this year was Princess Tatiana Sierra, whose father, Prince Piotr Galitzine, is from Russian aristocracy, and her mother, Princess Maria-Anna Habsburg, is the Belgian-born granddaughter of Emperor Karl and Empress Zita, the Austrian royal family deposed at the end of World War I.

Few are more dedicated to the welfare of animals that Susan and Dan Boggio, the event’s honorees. Susan is the current Board Chair for UNICEF-USA, and with Dan, were honored for their dedication to alleviate the homelessness and suffering of our community’s animals. They foster many animals at once, and Susan personally goes out on the streets to rescue animals she has seen or heard are in danger. They financially support animal welfare organizations as well. In accepting the award, Susan repeated her heartfelt motto, “There’s nothing more important in the world one can ever do than improve the quality of life and relieve the suffering of others, whether human or animal.”

Tama Lindquist, Tena Lindquist Faust, Susan and Dan Boggio, Princess Tatiana Sierra

The gala’s honorees, Susan and Dan Boggio (center) are congratulated by (L-R): Tena Lindquist Faust, Tama Lindquist, and Princess Tatiana Sierra (Photo: Chris Daigle)

The evening capped off with a live auction, where auctioneer Jeff Smith raised big bucks for the pups, with bids on a winter catamaran trip, a New York City Broadway Experience, a Palmetto Bluff, SC four-night getaway and a Pawve dogtag necklace curated by Itouch Diamonds Jewelers, to raise a total of $500,000 to help even more animals in danger.

Esperanza and Einstein gave the event 8 paws up!

***

Chris Daigle is a Houston historian, photojournalist and a regular contributor to The Grapevine Source. To read more of his articles, click HERE.