Thursday, December 24, 2009

Lufkin hit by tornado.

By Whitney Grunder -
LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Severe storms ripped through parts of East Texas Wednesday evening. Some Lufkin neighborhoods sustained extensive damage from a possible tornado.

Among them is the Lufkin VFW, which is now gone. The damage comes right after 10,000 dollars worth of recent tile work. A check for the construction was written Wednesday, before the storm hit.

One resident living near Gipson Funeral Home on Chestnut Street even reported seeing caskets in his backyard.
Jakoia Grimes and her children were happy to have made it safely out of their Lufkin apartment, before their entire roof collapsed. "I looked up and I just saw the light from outside and I had my girls come and sit by the door, and within minutes the entire roof caved in," said Grimes, who is now staying with family members.
Jennifer Mays watched the tornado touch down right outside Stephens Court Apartments. She described it as "massive." She said, "I couldn't believe it was so powerful to the point that it just opened up my door."
Next door, owners sifted through what remained of their welding business, part of Lufkin for 25 years. Max's Welding Shop on Denman Avenue was completely destroyed.
Owners said they can't blame God for the severe weather, and that fortunately another shop behind the building stands untouched by the storm.

"I think we're going to be able to salvage some of our equipment. I think we're going to be alright," said co-owner Betty Purgahn.
Cheddars employees also witnessed a tornado touch down in the middle of the Olive Garden parking lot. "I heard a bunch of commotion and they were talking about the patio chairs were nearly about to hit some cars so we ran to try to help," said Cheddars employee Brad Barrow.

According to witnesses, other than damaging a few of the vehicles parked in the Olive Garden parking lot, the tornado did not affect any of the buildings. The Department of Public Safety reported that the tornado lifted back up, and did not cause any injuries.
Utility crews were also working to remedy power outages caused by toppled power poles. Thursday morning, thousands of residents were without power. An Oncor spokesperson said approximately 2,500 customers were without power in the Lufkin area.

So far no severe injuries have been reported.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Captured escapee says prison staff helped him

by Staff

Posted on December 9, 2009 at 6:50 AM

CONROE, Texas—The escaped prisoner who was the focus of a week-long manhunt told a local activist that he had help from the inside. Convicted child rapist Arcade Comeaux said the weapon he used to hijack guards was in his cell for at least three weeks.

Questions still surround the prison system that allowed Comeaux to dupe authorities for years. The supposedly partially-paralyzed man managed to walk away from the guards and right into controversy.
Authorities are asking two questions; why didn’t prison officials realize Comeaux was faking his medical condition, and where did he get the gun?
Local activist Quanell X said Comeaux told him he had help from the inside.

“He named that guard and he also named someone who is involved in medical who had been giving him medical assistance,” Quanell X said.

But prison officials said Comeaux has not shared that information with investigators so there are no arrests at this time.
“This feels like the inmate is running the asylum,” said a former TDCJ staff member who remembers Comeaux clearly.
“He would sit in the food. Of course it would dry and start smelling. He refused to shower, refused to clean himself, basically saying ‘I’m immobile, I need someone to do this for me.’”

The former staff member said Comeaux orchestrated a deliberate campaign of extortion, despite medical reports that he was able to care for himself. He said Comeaux manipulated the system to get health assistance and better housing.
A grand jury on Thursday will hear the case against the convicted sex offender who was captured in northeast Houston Monday morning.
Comeaux is now facing aggravated kidnapping and felony escape charges. He was in custody in the Montgomery County Jail Tuesday, awaiting his hearing. Comeaux, who is currently serving three life sentences, was found when a salesman saw him trying to hitchhike in front of a business on East Little York.

The salesman called HPD, who came and took Comeaux into custody without incident.
Investigators said Comeaux escaped during transport from a prison unit in Huntsville to one in Beaumont.
As the prison van passed through Conroe, investigators said Comeaux pulled out a gun, held two transport guards hostage, handcuffed them in the back of the van, drove the van to Baytown, took the guards’ weapons, put on one of their uniforms and escaped.

Officials launched an extensive manhunt, but Comeaux managed to elude them for seven days before he was captured.
He had been confined to a wheelchair since 1997 when a stroke purportedly left him partially paralyzed, but when he was taken into custody, Comeaux was walking.

He has been in and out of the Texas prison system for 30 years.
Comeaux was first sent to prison in 1979 on three 10-year sentences for rape of a child, aggravated rape of a child and burglary of a building—all out of Harris County. He was paroled four years later.

His parole was revoked and he returned to prison in 1984 to serve a 20-year sentence on a new charge of indecency with a child out of Harris County. He was paroled in 1991 but was in and out of prison for parole violations until 1996.
In June 1998, he was given a life sentence for aggravated sexual assault in Brazos County.
Comeaux was given two extra life sentences after he was convicted of stabbing his wife and another person in 1999. That attack occurred in the Jester III Unit in Fort Bend County when his wife came to visit him. The other person stabbed was a man who tried to stop the attack.

Still, those at the top want to correct the miscommunication between the workers inside prison walls.

“If you are in charge of a prison, and you see there is a disputes between medical’s and correction’s, come to us and ask for laws that would eliminate the controversy, ”said John Whitmire, chairman of the senate criminal justice committee. He is calling for a full investigation of prison and medical staff.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

News Alert: Comeaux now on most wanted list

(CNN) -- A Texas inmate in a wheelchair, who escaped on foot from two armed guards as he was being transferred between prisons, is now on the U.S. Marshals' list of the 15 most-wanted fugitives.
Arcade Comeaux Jr., 49, "produced a weapon and fired upon two correctional officers, took them hostage and forced them to drive to Baytown, Texas," the U.S. Marshals Service said in a statement.
He then put the officers in the back of the van and took their weapons and one of their uniforms, the statement said.

Comeaux was serving three life sentences for aggravated sexual assault and two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He escaped Monday during transport from Huntsville, Texas, to Stiles, Texas.
The 6-foot, 200-pound man was shackled and in a wheelchair, "which he had claimed was needed for mobility," Michelle Lyons, director of public information for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Huntsville, said in a statement.

About 45 minutes into the trip, as they were driving through Conroe, 40 minutes north of Houston, the prisoner pulled out a pistol and ordered the guards to drive south to Baytown, east of Houston.
He fired once, but hit no one during the escape about 9 a.m., officials said.
Law enforcement officers found the unharmed officers an hour later.

Comeaux was being transferred so he could be near John Sealy Hospital in Galveston for treatment of the supposed paralysis he had suffered during a reported stroke, officials said.

At least $16,000 in reward money has been offered for information leading to Comeaux's rearrest and a task force of more than 100 investigators is searching for him, focusing on the Houston area, where he grew up and has family.
His escape has led the man who oversees Texas' criminal justice system to call for a shakeup of the prison system.
"I just think enough's enough," said Sen. John Whitmire, the Texas Democrat from Houston who is chairman of the state Senate's Criminal Justice Committee.

"We need a complete shakeup of the leadership of our prison system and/or an outside review by third parties," he told CNN by phone Wednesday. "We just can't have security breaches of this nature."
Whitmire said the guards had failed to pat down Comeaux while he was in his wheelchair and before they began the trip.
"Sure enough, he has a firearm," he said. "The question is, are there others (in the prison system)? I think you have to assume that there are until you find out differently."

So far this year, more than 900 cell phones have been confiscated from the 112 locations that house the state's 158,000 prisoners. "It's pretty rampant," he said.

"I want the director to come forward and tell us what it's going to take" to solve the problem, he said.
John Moriarty, inspector general of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said such lapses are highly unusual in the state's penal system. "We have no open gun investigations other than this one," he said. "The last one was several years ago."
Texas Department of Criminal Justice Executive Director Brad Livingston, who has been in the job since 2005, did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Snow forecast in Houston area !

On average, once every four years even Houston gets visited by the Snow Gods. Although, this could be the second year-in-a-row for Houston snow. And if snow does indeed fall this Friday as forecasted, it would be the earliest snowfall on record.

Fred Schmud of ImpactWeather said to the Houston Chronicle, “Most of our forecasting data is caught right in the middle, meaning any subtle change in the position of the upper level disturbance will have huge consequences on how much, if any, snow falls across the Greater Houston area."

Right now NOAA is predicting a 70% chance of snow on Friday.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas on the Island

Moody Gardens lights up its pyramids and more for Festival of Lights which shines through Jan. 8.

By Carol Rust
Updated: 11.30.09
Galveston Island will be the host of Christmas Past and Christmas Futuristic with twin annual attractions – the 36th annual Dickens on the Strand – back in full festive force after Hurricane Ike – and the Moody Gardens Festival of Lights, transforming the Gardens’ glass pyramids into spectacular, sparkling mountains of incandescence. Both offer an array of entertainment for all ages.

Christmas carols and cockney accents alike will fill the air in Galveston’s historic district this Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 5-6, when the 19th-century characters from the world of Charles Dickens come alive, sauntering along a 10-block area crowded with Victorian-era costumes, entertainment, wares, choirs and boutiques and featuring artifacts from London’s Charles Dickens Museum.

New this year is the Dickens Victorian Bed Races, in which costumed contestants pull and push their mattress-topped chariots, complete with pajama-clad passengers, along a two-block route toward the finish line. Halfway through, members of each team must switch places – and costumes – with members who have been riding in the beds, Chinese Fire Drill-style.

The fun-filled festivities will represent a boisterous comeback from last year, when event sponsor and attendees valiantly kept the spirit of Dickens on the Strand alive in half the usual festival area in the wake of Hurricane Ike, aka Scrooge, which flooded many buildings in the district with 8 to 13 feet of corrosive water, shuttering numerous shops whose owners typically participate in Galveston Island’s unique Christmas holiday. Some sold their merchandise from the second floors of their businesses and others erected outdoor booths.

“There is no better place in Texas to be than on the historic streets of Galveston during the first weekend in December,” said Dwayne Jones, executive director of Galveston Historical Foundation, which has turned its annual Dickens on the Strand into one of the premier holiday festivals in the nation. “This year’s festival is very special to Galveston. Hurricane Ike forced us to scale back last year’s Dickens on the Strand. This year, we have even added to all the wonderful features that have made attending the festival a tradition for thousands of Texas families over the years.”

The Dickens Emporium, another new feature this year, highlights the famous painting “Dickens’s Dream,” never before been seen in the United States. In the painting, the beloved author dozes in his office chair as images of the characters he made famous in his novels float in the air around his head. The exhibit also includes artifacts from the Charles Dickens Museum, including the author’s chair, where festival patrons may sit to pose for Victorian Christmas portraits. Retail items depicting the “Dickens’ Dream” image will be on sale.

Advance tickets may be purchased only at for $9 for adults and $4 for children ages seven to 12. At the gate, tickets will be $12 and $6 for children ages seven to 12. Attendees dressed in period costume get in free.

Across the island, holiday visitors get a different kind of treat with the Moody Gardens’ Festival of Lights, with more than 100 sound-enhanced light displays and nightly entertainment. Even on this Gulf Coast island, visitors can don a pair of ice skates and glide around the specially made outdoor skating rink — a first this year — along the scenic Offatts Bayou.

The multiple-week event, which attracts some 85,000 visitors each year and runs through Jan. 8, also features an array of holiday-themed films at the IMAX Theater. Movie-goers can experience “Disney’s A Christmas Carol,” starring Jim Carrey, in three-dimensional delight. Polar Express 4D offers special effects such as falling snow, the sensation of blowing wind and the smell of hot chocolate to appeal to all the senses.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. daily. Admission to Festival of Lights is $5.95. Tickets for additional attractions, including the Aquarium Pyramid, the holiday IMAX film, holiday Ridefilm, the Discovery Museum and the Colonel Paddle Boat, are $5 each.

Moody Gardens also offers a savory alternative to the pressures of holiday meal preparation with its Holiday Dinner Buffet at the Garden Restaurant or at the “Gift of Christmas Live” Show and Dinner, combining a fine-dining experience with a lively performance of some of the state’s tall talents. Tickets to this event are $43

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Police investigate murder in Shadow Creek Ranch subdivision

Updated: 10.14.09
It seemed just another normal Monday afternoon in a quiet Shadow Creek Ranch subdivision. But, the calm was soon swept away when Donghai Yu, husband and father, sat down on the front steps of his house and called 911; reporting he “thought” he had killed his wife.

Police officials say they received the call at approximately 4:25 and dispatched a patrol car to a house in the 12300 block of Winding Shores. At the scene, Police say they found Yu sitting in the front yard, his arms covered in blood. Officers then went into the house and discovered Yu’s wife lying on the kitchen floor in a pool of her own blood. Her upper torso was covered with knife puncture wounds. Officers estimated she had been stabbed at least fifteen times, and immediately called EMS workers to the scene. Soon, a Life Flight helicopter came and took Yu’s 39 year old wife to Hermann Hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival. As the medical team took action, detectives and forensic specialists were summoned to survey and contain the crime scene.

Outside the house, Yu was handcuffed and immediately taken to Pearland Police Headquarters to be questioned by detectives.

Police officials have released that Yu was 43, and despite living in Pearland since 2005, still maintained Chinese citizenship. At the time of the incident, the he worked as a chemist for Dianal America Inc. in Pasadena. The victim, Ling Feng, 39, worked as an accountant; but officials have not released the name of her employer.

The couple had a twelve year old son, who was picked up from school by child welfare specialists, who transitioned custody of the boy to his aunt.

Yu remains in the custody of the Pearland Police Department and has been formally charged with the murder of his wife. Yu’s bond is set as $400,000. Arrangements are being made to transport the suspect to the Brazoria County Detention Center in Angleton.

More detailed will be released as they become available on the Pearland Journal website.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Lacross Moon Smash Viewing Party In Humble

Administaff Observatory - Humble ISD
2505 S. Houston Ave, Humble, TX 77396
The Administaff Observatory will be recording and projecting the event as seen on their 20-inch Planewave CDK telescope and viewing it with our eyes on the 16-inch Meade LX-200 telescope. Aaron Clevenson -, Observatory Director, Adminstaff Observatory

Related article: Earth’s closest neighbor is holding a secret. In 1999, hints of that secret were revealed in the form of concentrated hydrogen signatures detected in permanently shadowed craters at the lunar poles by NASA’s Lunar Prospector. These readings may be an indication of lunar water and could have far-reaching implications as humans expand exploration past low-Earth orbit. The Lunar CRater Observing and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) mission is seeking a definitive answer.

In April 2006, NASA selected the LCROSS proposal for a low-cost, fast-track companion mission to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The main LCROSS mission objective is to confirm the presence or absence of water ice in a permanently shadowed crater near a lunar polar region.

LCROSS launched with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on June 18, 2009 at 2:32 p.m. PDT. The LCROSS shepherding spacecraft and the Atlas V’s Centaur upper stage rocket executed a fly-by of the moon on June 23, 2009 (LCROSS lunar swingby video stream coverage) and entered into an elongated Earth orbit to position LCROSS for impact on a lunar pole. On final approach, the shepherding spacecraft and Centaur will separate. The Centaur will act as a heavy impactor to create a debris plume that will rise above the lunar surface. Projected impact at the lunar South Pole is currently: Oct 9, 2009 at 4:30 a.m. PDT. Following four minutes behind, the shepherding spacecraft will fly through the debris plume, collecting and relaying data back to Earth before impacting the lunar surface and creating a second debris plume.

The debris plumes are expected to be visible from Earth- and space-based telescopes 10-to-12 inches and larger.

The LCROSS science payload consists of two near-infrared spectrometers, a visible light spectrometer, two mid-infrared cameras, two near-infrared cameras, a visible camera and a visible radiometer. The LCROSS instruments were selected to provide mission scientists with multiple complimentary views of the debris plume created by the Centaur impact.

As the ejecta rises above the target crater’s rim and is exposed to sunlight, any water-ice, hydrocarbons or organics will vaporize and break down into their basic components. These components primarily will be monitored by the visible and infrared spectrometers. The near-infrared and mid-infrared cameras will determine the total amount and distribution of water in the debris plume. The spacecraft’s visible camera will track the impact location and the behavior of the debris plume while the visible radiometer will measure the flash created by the Centaur impact.

NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., is overseeing the development of the LCROSS mission with its spacecraft and integration partner, Northrop Grumman, Redondo Beach, Calif. LCROSS is a fast-paced, low-cost, mission that will leverage some existing NASA systems, commercial-off-the-shelf components, the spacecraft expertise of Northrop Grumman and experience gained during the Lunar Prospector Mission in 1999. Ames is managing the mission, conducting mission operations, and developing the payload instruments, while Northrop Grumman designed and is building the spacecraft for this innovative mission. Ames mission scientists will spearhead the data analysis.

Public viewing parties:

Sci-Quest Museum
102-D Wynn Drive, Huntsville, AL 35805
Overnight lock-in at the Museum. Evening of Thursday, Oct. 8 with viewing opportunities Friday, Oct. 9 (Impact week is also Fall Break for our local schools). We will have LCROSS programs and activities throughout the evening and show NASA TV live coverage in the Sci-Quest auditorium. Members of the Von Braun Astronomical Society will bring out telescopes for observations. Sci-Quest can accommodate 80 children and 40 adults. LPRP is working with MSFC Academic Affairs to select the students for participation.
Tentative: live feed to MSFC auditorium for employees.

Von Braun Astronomical Society Planetarium, Monte Sano State Park
Monte Sano State Park , Huntsville, AL 35805
October 9th - LCROSS Mission's Lunar Impacts -- Early Friday morning (Gathering at around 5 - 5:30 am), October 9th, VBAS Members and news media only are invited to join us at our observatory facilities located within Monte Sano State Park to view and record the two plumes for the LCROSS (Lunar CRater Observatory and Sensing Satellite) mission's lunar impacts! Watch for additional details to be posted soon.
October 10th - Astronomy Day -- On Saturday, Oct. 10th from 3 pm to mid-night, VBAS will host our annual "Astronomy Day" which will include children activities, planetarium programs, an outdoor concert from 5 to 9 pm that the entire family will enjoy featuring the Maple Hill Band & Moondust Big Band, and a star party from 9 pm to mid-night that any one with a telescope is welcome to attend! During our event, we will be showing the video footage of the lunar impact's plume and will celebrate, share the exciting historical moment with the public. Admission is free for children and students, with a $10 donation for adults. Members wishing to help this year should contact Melissa Snider at 256.684.9036 and those with telescopes who would like to reserve a spot for the star party from 9 to mid-night should contact Eric Johnson at 256.682.2401.

California (CA)

Lewis Center for Educational Research
17500 Mana Road, Apple Valley, CA 92307
Doors open to the public beginning at 4am. The Lewis Center can accommodate ~320 and has a small overflow area as well. NASA Channel will all be on all TVs and computers in Mission Control area. The Lewis Center will also have 65 students in house all night. They will be tracking, from the in house mission control, the spacecraft as it impacts the Moon using a 34-m radio telescope. You can see the Mission Control from their website at:

Antelope Valley Astronomy Club
P.O. Box 8545, Lancaster, CA 93539
Antelope Valley - LCROSS Lunar Impact Event Page
The Antelope Valley Astronomy Club is planning a star party for the morning of the impact. The party will be at a private residence in Antelope Acres and some really cool observing equipment will be present.

Lucerne Dry Lake
Lucerne Valley, CA
LCROSS Viewing Party at Lucerne Dry Lake
There will be an 8" Celestron telescope with a low-light video camera going to a projector, so many people will be able to view the event. Camping is allowed on Lucerne Dry Lake, and portable toilets will be available. The event will occur a day before the Rocketry Organization of California (ROC) rocket launch at the lakebed. Directions and camping information can be found on ROC's website at

NASA Ames Research Center
Moffett Field, California 94035
Ames will be hosting an all-night event that is open to the general public and free; however, no-cost tickets are required for each guest wishing to stay overnight. See site for details and schedule of events.

Chabot Space & Science Center
10000 Skyline Blvd. - Oakland, CA 94619
Chabot - NASA/LCROSS Lunar Impact Event
As NASA’s LCROSS Mission to investigate the presence of water on the Moon comes to a close, get up early and join us at Chabot to view the impact of the spacecraft and the debris plume it is expected to produce through a special live NASA broadcast in our Planetarium, and through the eye of Chabot’s own 36-inch telescope, Nellie. Advanced registration required -- Members FREE / Guests $3 -- Register: (510) 336-7373

California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118
LCROSS event during the day Oct. 9
For those who aren't early risers, drop by the California Academy of Sciences to attend one of four debriefings during the day. At 10:00 a.m., noon, 2:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m., Academy educators will highlight original footage of the impact as well as up-to-the-minute results as the day progresses. Visit the "Science in Action" exhibit on the first floor for updates. Free with Academy admission.

The Fremont Peak Observatory
PO Box 1376, San Juan Bautista, California 95045
LCROSS Lunar Impact
The observatory will open to the public starting around 3:00 a.m. and continue until about 5:00 a.m. The telescope is a large 30" f/4.8 modified Newtonian style telescope. We will be attaching a sensitive video camera and recording the event. The recorder will be connected to the projector in the classroom adjacent to the observing room. This way, we can accommodate about 50 or more people with the ability to see the event live. If more interest picks up, we might move the projector screen outside to the amphitheater -- that configuration can accommodate over 100 people. Other members will have smaller telescopes set up around the observatory also. Campsites are available on first come first serve basis. State Parks requires RSVP's. See www.fpoa.netfor details.

Tierra Del Sol Remote Observation Facility
Tierra de Luna Rd, Tierra del Sol, CA 91905
The San Diego Astronomy Association will host a special star party event at the Tierra Del Sol remote observation facility 90 minutes east of San Diego. Members of the public who wish to attend should call 858-877-3103 or send an email request for a ticket to to RSVP, as the event will be limited to a total of 300 attendees. Overnight camping is available and full details about how to reach the Tierra Del Sol site, and what to bring with you to the event will be emailed to those who RSVP in advance of the event. You must RSVP to attend.

Colorado (CO)

Fiske Planetarium
Regent Drive, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 80301
Fiske Planetarium and Sommers-Bausch Observatory will hold a Lunar Bagel Breakfast. The observatory has 16", 18" and a 24" telescope that will be used for the general public to view the impact.

Star Light--Star Bright Observatory
2015 Wickes Road, Colorado Springs, CO 80919
Will have a 10" Mac-Newtonian telescope and video camera system to display the impact to students, teachers, and members of the public who plan to come out early in the morning on the 9th of Oct., weather permitting.

Connecticut (CT)

Discovery Museum and Planetarium
4450 Park Ave., Bridgeport, CT 06604
Discovery Museum and Planetarium will be hosting an LCROSS breakfast to view the impact event. Light breakfast will be served, planetarium show, short lecture and live impact downlink followed by discussion and celebratory toast.

District of Columbia (DC)

555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20001
Will present the NASA TV live coverage, will open up the museum free at 6:30 a.m. EDT.

Florida (FL)

NASA Kennedy Space Center
FL 32899-0001
KSC guest operations is considering options to open one of their theaters at the Visitor’s Complex and dedicate it for the week of impact to show various LCROSS launch videos and replays of press conferences. This would be available for viewing by the general public during their visits.

Hawaii (HI)
The State has declared that the week of October 2-9 is Hawai’ian Aerospace Week.

Mauna Kea
Great University of Hawaii-owned UH-88 telescope on Mauna Kea is going to be made available for outreach. Details in the works: Andy Chaikin will be at the telescope, amateur involvement with the gathering of the images. John Herrington and Todd May will also be there.

'Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai'i
600 `Imiloa Place, Hilo, HI 96720
Free NASA LCROSS Mission Talk and Presentation.— Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 10:00 AM to Noon

Lanihuli Observatory
Windward Community College, 45-720 Keaahala Rd, Kaneohe, Hawaii 96744
Observatory open and free to the public from 10:00 p.m. Oct 8 through 2:00 a.m. Oct 9.

Maui Astronomy Club
Institute for Astronomy, 34 Ohia Ku Street, Pukalani HI 96768
Open to the public from 11:30 pm to 2:30am. Astronomers are advised to arrive early to set up telescopes, video and CCD cameras. Attendees will be instructed and educated as to timing and nature of event. We will be watching the NASA TV live feed on line as well. Hot chocolate will be served.

Idaho (ID)

College of Southern Idaho’s Herrett Center for Arts and Science museum
315 Falls Ave, Twin Falls, ID 83301-3367
'Moon Bomb' breakfast at the Herrett Center
The Center is planning a public event to view the LCROSS impact. The Center has a public observatory with a 24” f/8 research-grade telescope, and a 144-seat planetarium theater with multiple video projectors. Event includes sky gazing, viewing the impact in the auditorium and a breakfast. The Herrett Telescope will be focused on the point of impact by 4:30 a.m. when the doors open.

Illinois (IL)

The Adler Planetarium
1300 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL 60605
The Adler Planetarium will show the planned impact of NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) live on the morning of October 9, 2009 in the Definiti Theater. The event will begin at 6:00 a.m., alongside a live feed from the Adler's own 20-inch Doane Observatory telescope (weather permitting) as we attempt to see the impact plume through our telescope, as well. This event is FREE, but advance registration is STRONGLY encouraged. Registration is ONLINE ONLY. If space is available on October 9, seating will be first come, first served, based on the capacity of the theater, though there is no guarantee that day-of space will be offered. Doors open at 5:50 a.m.; the event ends at 7:00 a.m.

NIU Geology Department
Northern Illinois University, Davis Hall Room 308, Normal & Locust Rds., DeKalb, IL 60115
The Northern Illinois University Geology Department, hosted by Sigma Gamma Epsilon (Geologic Honor Society) will be hosting a NASA TV viewing party for the LCROSS impact on October 9th. The viewing will be from 6:00am until whenever there is nothing left to see, and the event will be catered by a local restaurant. For more information on attending the event (and having hot food!) please email for more information.

NIU Observatory
Northern Illinois University, Normal & Locust Rds., DeKalb, IL 60115
The NIU Davis Observatory will be hosting an event from 5:00am—7:00am on October 9 to attempt to view the dust plume resulting from the impact. We expect this to also be an excellent time to observe other objects, including Mars and Venus. For more information or for directions to the observatory, please e-mail, call 753-1305 or go to

Kentucky (KY)

Western Kentucky University
1906 College Heights Blvd, Bowling Green, KY, 42101
The WKU Physics and Astronomy Department, Hardin Planetarium and the Hilltoppers Astronomy Club will host a Star Party starting at 5:00 am Friday October 9th. There will be bagels and juice, talks by professional astronomers and more. Come and be a part of this unique event and watch NASA's video broadcast of the LCROSS spacecraft impacting the Moon live from the Hardin Planetarium. Adults and children welcome. Free. Please contact Dr Rachel Campbell if you would like more information.

Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium
University of Louisville, 108 W Brandeis Ave, Louisville, KY 40292
LCROSS Public Viewing Event
The free, public event starts at 7 a.m. EDT (the crash is scheduled for 7:30 a.m.) and will feature a live broadcast of the collision, behind the scenes videos and a question and answer session with planetarium director Rachel Connolly. Light refreshments, including “moon rocks” (donut holes), will be served. Those planning to attend the event should check to make sure details of the mission have not changed by calling the planetarium at 502-852-6664.

Morehead University Space Center
4133 Us Highway 60, Morehead, KY 40351
LCROSS Public Viewing Event
Join the Faculty and Staff of the Morehead State University Space Science Center Friday October 9th at 6:30 am CDT to witness the culmination of the LCROSS mission, part of NASA’s revived robotic exploration of the Moon. Live coverage from NASA TV will be shown on the Star Theater dome as the LCROSS satellite observes the impact of its Centaur upper stage into a crater permanently shadowed near the moon’s South Pole at approximately 7:30 a.m. CDT, followed four minutes later by the impact of the LCROSS vehicle itself.

Louisiana (LA)

Highland Road Park Observatory
13800 Highland Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70810
Public event from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 9. For more information, contact

Massachusetts (MA)

Boston Museum of Science
61 Science Park, Boston, MA 02114
"Target: Moon!"
Watch a NASA video broadcast of the experiment, and join Museum staff and guest scientists in a discussion on its implications for future human exploration of the Moon. Our guests include Nick Gross, PhD, Boston University Astronomy Department; and Tony Case, graduate student from Boston University Center for Space Physics. Starts at 9:00 a.m. EDT, with the re-broadcast of the LCROSS impacts at 10:00 a.m. EDT.

Minnesota (MN)

Jackson Middle School Observatory
6000 109th Avenue North, Champlin, Minnesota 55316
Public event from 5:45 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 9. Please check the Web site to make sure the session is still on as planned (due to weather conditions) or call 763-506-5372 to listen to the recorded message.

Willmar Senior High
2701 30th St. NE, Willmar, MN 56201
Willmar Senior High's Earth Space Science class will have 2 telescopes set up 1 - 8" Celestron Scmidt-Cass with digital camera and a 10" Orion Skyquest light bucket at 6:00 a.m. for the 6:30 a.m. EDT impact.

Mississippi (MS)

Rainwater Observatory & Planetarium
1 Fine Place, French Camp, MS 39745
Talk and public observing event the night of Oct. 8. Our telescopes will be observing and imaging the event on Friday morning. We will have an open house on Saturday afternoon and another talk Saturday evening at 7pm followed by observing.

Montana (MT)

Montana State University - Northern
300 West 11th Street, Havre, MT 59501
Montana State University - Northern is hosting an observation of the LCROSS impact ejecta plume Oct. 9th, starting at 4:30 am CDT on the campus at the Student Union Building (Sled Hill). We will be setting up several large telescopes and pray for good seeing. Contact info: Professor Trygve "Spike" Magelssen; 406-265-4123, and Dr. Virgil Hawkinson We'll have the hot chocolate and coffee on!

Nevada (NV)

University of Nevada, Reno
1664 N. Virginia St., Reno, NV 89557-0208
The University of Nevada, Reno will be offering public viewing in the parking lot south of the campus baseball field from 4:00 AM to Dawn on October 9th 2009. The University will have its 11" Meade, equipped with a CCD camera to try to get an image of the impact, and Tahoe Star Tours will have an 11" CPC for visual observation, with an additional 8" telescope for general viewing.

New York (NY)

Inwood Astronomy Project
Inwood Hill Park, W 207 Street and Seaman Ave, New York City, NY
Early morning stargazing then breakfast and watch the Impact on NASA TV.

Hirsch Observatory
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 110 8th St, Troy, NY 12180
Event starts at 6:30 a.m. EDT. We will attempt imaging the event with the Hirsch Observatory's 16" telescope and live video feeds from NASA and major observatories will be presented. Event is weather permitting. In the event of clouds the event will be canceled. You can email for more information. The observatory phone number is 518-276-6090.

North Carolina (NC)

High Point, NC
Astronomy Lecture featuring LCROSS
(more info forthcoming)

Ohio (OH)

Cleveland Museum of Natural History (in partnership with NASA Glenn)
1 Wade Oval Drive University Circle Cleveland OH 44106-1767
CMNH has a planetarium and a 10.5” refractor telescope. Because sunrise is at 7:32 a.m., they are not optimistic in being able to see much, but they are going to try. They will put a TV camera feed to a public viewing area (as well as to a video recorder) and allow visitors to walk through the observatory. Media will also be invited to the event. NASA TV will be broadcast in the planetarium and perhaps an auditorium. Glenn will provide an LPRP banner it has been in storage since the Oshkosh air show, a model of the Centaur rocket, a pop up exhibit on Centaur history, and possibly a “speaker” to answer questions from a NASA perspective.

Nielsen Observatory
12882 Diagonal Road, Elyria, Ohio 44050
We will open the gates at 5:30 a.m. We will have live NASA Broadcast feeds, canned video, and a camera attached to a C-14 telescope, hoping to capture the plumes as they occur. Other telescopes will be setup so our guests can view the Moon before and after the LCROSS events occur, weather permitting.

Oregon (OR)

ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum in Ashland
1500 E. Main St., Ashland, OR 97520
The ScienceWorks preview of the impact, illustrated with NASA mission video and new lunar images, will be held October 8th, 7:00-8:00 p.m. in the ScienceWorks auditorium. Admission for the event is free.

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI)
1945 SE Water Avenue, Portland, OR 97214
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) will offer space exploration enthusiasts the opportunity to watch the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) crash-land on the Moon Friday, October 9. The LCROSS will crash into the Moon in order to gather data from the 6-mile-high impact cloud it will create. OMSI will be showing the impact in the auditorium live via satellite on NASA TV beginning at 3:30 a.m., with the impact scheduled at 4:30 a.m. PDT. Admission for the televised impact is free.

Sunriver Nature Center & Observatory
57245 River Rd, Sunriver, OR‎ 97707
The Sunriver Nature Center & Observatory will be open for viewing to watch the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) crash-land on the Moon Friday, October 9. The observatory will have up to 10 telescopes viewing the event. We will also be showing the impact on our big screen TV via satellite on NASA TV. Doors will open beginning at 4 a.m., with the impact scheduled at 4:30 a.m. PDT. Admission for the event is free, donations gladly accepted.

South Carolina (SC)

Copeland Auditorium
The Citadel, Charleston, SC 29409
Reveille on the Moon
Friday, October 9th: 7:00 a.m. – 8:50 a.m. A live view of LCROSS’s impact and resulting regolith plume will be shown using streaming data from the LCROSS spacecraft via NASA. Also a live Earth bound view will be projected from the large telescope at the MMT Observatory in Arizona.

Texas (TX)

El Paso Community College
Valle Verde Campus, 919 Hunter, El Paso, TX 79915
The college will open its dome at 4:30 a.m. CDT to the public to watch the LCROSS impact. The dome is in front of the North Loop entrance of the Valley Verde campus.

Administaff Observatory - Humble ISD
2505 S. Houston Ave, Humble, TX 77396
The Administaff Observatory will be recording and projecting the event as seen on their 20-inch Planewave CDK telescope and viewing it with our eyes on the 16-inch Meade LX-200 telescope. Aaron Clevenson -, Observatory Director, Adminstaff Observatory

Nova Hill Observatory
San Angelo, Texas
The San Angelo Astronomy Association will have an Impact Party on Friday morning, Oct. 9. Impact is 6:30 a.m. CDT. There will be 20" and 30" Dobsonians aimed at the moon, as well as two 12' scopes.

Scobee Planetarium
1300 San Pedro Ave, San Antonio, Texas
The Scobee Planetarium will be taking live video feeds through their CCD video cameras and displaying them on various screens at the observatory.

Utah (UT)

Clark Planetarium
110 South 400 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
On Saturday, October 10 from 3:30-4:30pm, the Hansen Dome Theatre at the Clark Planetarium will present its original fulldome digital mini-show “Flight to the Moon: LRO and LCROSS” followed by a live-narrated presentation by Programs Manager Mike Murray. The presentation will include images, video and other feedback about the impact of the Centaur rocket booster and LCROSS in the crater Cabeus-A near the lunar south pole.

Washington (WA)

Central Washington University Astronomy Club
400 E University Way, Ellensburg, WA 98926
This event will be hosted by the CWU astronomy club and physics department in Lind Hall on the southeast corner of the CWU campus. (See the campus map for details.) Doors open to the public at 3:30 am PDT. NASA channel will be showing the event in room 204. We'll be tracking the collision live with our 12-inch telescope on the roof of Lind Hall (weather permitting). There will be various smaller telescopes available for general sky observing, as well. For more information, contact Bruce Palmquist at

Hamblen Park Presbyterian Church
4102 S. Crestline, Spokane, WA 99203
We will have 4 telescopes set up for the event; two 8 inch schmidt cassigrains, a 12 inch dobsonian and a 16 inch dobsonian. One of the 8 inch scopes will be hooked to a camera and a projector. Viewing will begin approximately one hour before impact.

W.M. Keck Observatory
Pacific Lutheran University, 10th Ave S and 124th St S Tacoma, WA
LCROSS Breakfast Bash
The Tacoma Astronomical Society will be hosting an LCROSS Breakfast Bash at the PLU Observatory from 3:45 am PDT to 30 minutes post impact. We will stream NASA LCROSS footage as well as our own images from the 16" W.M. Keck Observatory.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Thunder Over Houston Area May Be Jets!

The U.S. military has issued advanced warning that jet fighters could be scrambled in the Houston area on Oct. 6 as part of military exercises.

North American Aerospace Defense Command will conduct the flights in the skies over Southeast Texas. The pre-planned flights will take place in the late morning and early afternoon and residents should expect to hear and see NORAD fighter jets as they practice intercept and identification procedures.

Although exact flight plans were not divulged, a NORAD spokesman at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado said Houston airspace “could be included” in the exercises.

NORAD has conducted exercise flights of this nature throughout the United States and Canada since the start of Operation Noble Eagle, the command’s response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Monster for sale in Manvel

MANVEL, Texas -- Homes across the Houston area have been getting bigger every decade, but nothing may compare to what’s for sale in Manvel in Brazoria County. Sitting on a 16-acre field next to cow pastures along County Road 59 is a home big almost beyond belief.

For sale: Behemoth, 65,000-square-foot home near Pearland – no joke

Realtor Joe Rollins of Shelby Estus Realty Group recently gave 11 News a tour. The home is a two-story brick behemoth, looking a bit like Southfork in the opening sequence of the 1980’s CBS soap opera “Dallas.” But this is Southfork on steroids.

“It’s 65,000 square feet,” said Rollins as he walked down the home’s second floor hallway that looked to be as long as three bowling lanes laid end-to-end.

“It’s the biggest house I’ve ever seen.”

It has a dozen huge bedrooms, a nine car garage and an indoor pool deep enough for a diving board. The kitchen is probably as big as the one at your local Luby’s and the living room like one of the ballrooms in “The Sound of Music.”

By rough estimate, it might cost $9,000 a month just to cool the place.

A local doctor built it in 1991 but he, his wife and teenage son had second thoughts and never moved in. Now for sale for $2.4 million, will anyone buy it to actually live in it?

“I think that’s a long shot,” said Rollins.

More likely, it’ll be used for commercial purposes. Some years ago, a company bought it and started to convert it to a nursing home. But that project came to a halt and was abandoned. Now, with some of the rooms partially altered (like the huge foyer where there’s now a reception booth) the home needs a lot of internal work to make it usable. The realtor said a church has recently expressed interest.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Actor Patrick Swayze Dies; Houston Native Had Battled Cancer

LOS ANGELES (September 14, 2009)—“Dirty Dancing” actor Patrick Swayze, 57, has lost his yearlong battle with pancreatic cancer.

Swayze died Monday with his family at his side, his publicist Annett Wolf said.

In March 2008, it was disclosed that the Houston native had been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

Despite the grim prognosis, Swayze continued to work on the A&E series “The Beast,” in which he starred, although he said the cancer put him “through hell.”

Swayze became a star in 1987 with his performance in the coming-of-age classic “Dirty Dancing.”

Three years later, his role in “Ghost” made him a big screen favorite.

Patrick Swayze was born on August 18, 1952 in Houston, Texas, the eldest child of Patsy Yvonne Helen (née Karnes; b. 1927), a choreographer, dance instructor, and dancer, and Jessie Wayne Swayze (1925-1982), an engineering draftsman.[6][7] He had two younger brothers, actor Don (born 1958) and Sean Kyle (born 1962), and two sisters, Vicky Lynn (1949-1994) and Bambi, who were adopted into the family.[8] His surname originated with an English immigrant ancestor named "Swasey".[7]
Until the age of 20,

Swayze lived in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston, where he attended St. Rose of Lima Catholic School, Oak Forest Elementary School,[9] Black Middle School,[9][10] and Waltrip High School.[9] During this time, he also pursued multiple artistic and athletic skills, such as ice skating, classical ballet, and acting in school plays. He studied gymnastics at nearby San Jacinto College for two years.

Patrick Swayze on Wkipedia.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

9-9-09 - Does it mean anything?

And though the date lacks the pizzazz of the lucky sevens (07/07/07), that isn't stopping marketers, mathematicians and the marriage-minded from dressing it to the nines.

Hotels are offering discounts, couples are wedding in droves and "9/9/09" was among the top 100 search terms on the search engine Google on Tuesday.

Lottery users will undoubtedly try their luck by playing 999 Wednesday, and a lucky mother might see herself profiled on the news should she give birth at just the right time: 9:09.

So why not get in on the act?

After all, you're unlikely to experience another single-digit date in your lifetime. The next one won't roll around for 92 years -- until 1/1/2101.

Going to the chapel, gonna get married

In China, more than 10,000 couples were expected to register their marriages in Beijing on Wednesday and 6,000 more couples were set to tie the knot in Shanghai -- even though it's a weekday, said the Xinhua news agency.

In Malaysia, more than 500 ethnic Chinese couples married at a Buddhist temple in Kuala Lumpur.

That's because Chinese culture considers the number nine auspicious. In major Chinese dialects, the word for "nine" sounds similar to "longlasting."

Marriage also will be on the mind of many around the world who hope the date will translate to a life on cloud nine.

The Registry of Marriages in Singapore had more than 364 couples signed up to marry Wednesday, says The Straits Times newspaper. The average is 64.

Ditto for Australia. The state of Queensland has reported a threefold increase in the number of couples tying the knot.

"It's as simple as having a wedding anniversary that you can never forget," the registrar-general Helen Lucas told the broadcaster ABC.

Needless to say, the so-called marriage capital of the world -- Las Vegas, Nevada -- isn't about to let such an opportunity pass it by.

The Stratosphere is among several hotels and casinos offering quickie weddings. It is angling to marry off 99 couples at 9:09 p.m. for -- what else -- $99.09.

Hotels hope you book it!

Several hotels are offering special deals, tied to the date. The truth is that September is a slow time for the travel industry and any gimmick will do. has been running a nine-day sale leading up to Wednesday, for rooms priced $99 or less.


Those who like to play with numbers will have a field day on 09/09/09.

The date falls on a Wednesday in September, both of which have 9 letters.

September 9 also is the 252nd day of the year. 2+5+2

In addition, if you multiply a single-digit number by 9, the resulting two digits add up to 9. Consider: 8x9

Take me out to the ballgame

More than most, baseball is a game steeped in nines: nine players on the field at one time, nine innings, 90 feet between bases and nine strikes per inning.

You can celebrate by going to one of 15 games that Major League Baseball has on tap on Wednesday. Or you can commemorate along with, which is inviting fans to vote for each team's best players, by season and position, in the All-Time 9s.

Tweet away ...

Republicans are asking Twitter users to log on at 9 p.m. ET for what is being billed as the "largest Twitter tea party ever."

... or take in a movie

The Tim Burton-produced sci-fi flick "9" comes out Wednesday, the 9th. It's a story about hand-stitched robots that battle to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. How many robots? Nine.

Nine lives? Not today

The humor Web site URLesque has declared a one-day ban on all cat-related videos and stories on 09/09/09. The site doesn't specifically say so, but we suspect it has to do with feline luck running out after nine lives.

"Why only one day?" the Web site asks. "Well let's be honest, that's probably only as long as we'll last before a hilarious video comes crashing into our inbox."

A day in the life

An Internet project led by 25-year-old student Matthias Kluckert in Germany is soliciting stories from around the world Wednesday -- to capture an ordinary day on Earth experienced by people across cultures.

The project, "A Day on the Planet," hopes to collect the best stories and eventually publish them in eight languages.

Why 09/09/09?

"Because it is a date that is so easy to remember," the organizers said.

Speaking of the Beatles ...

It is a big day for the Beatles.

The group's entire music collection comes out digitally mastered.

Monday, September 7, 2009

!2 Year Old Hurt In Hit & Run

HOUSTON –Police are searching for a driver they said ran over a 12-year-old boy in South Houston on Sunday.

Police said around 2 a.m., the boy was riding on the hood of gray Ford Taurus in the 4100 block of Grassmere.

Witnesses said the boy fell off the car when it sped up, then the driver ran over the child and fled the scene.

The child was rushed to Memorial Hermann in critical conditon.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Waterspout comes ashore in Galveston

By Chris Paschenko & Rhiannon Meyers / The Daily News & Kevin Reece / 11 News
GALVESTON, Texas — The National Weather Service confirmed a waterspout came ashore in Galveston on Sunday damaging buildings, knocking out power and injuring at least three people.

It happened soon after a strong line of storms moved into the county, and the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning. A waterspout is a tornado that forms over water.

Dolphin World, a souvenir shop in the 2900 block of Seawall Boulevard, was damaged about 9:45 p.m. Debris covered the streets.

Ironically, Dolphin World survived Hurricane Ike with very little damage. But after this storm, things were different.

“It’s very, very bad. Very difficult. Basically everything inside is gone. Brings back memory of Ike,” Schlomo Hamo of Dolphin World said.

Witnesses told The Daily News that a piece of the roof from Dolphin World struck a man who was pushing his bicycle down the seawall. They said he was taken away by ambulance.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

CNN) -- Three boaters who were stranded at sea for more than a week were being reunited with their families Sunday.

Three missing boaters were returned safely to Port Aransas, Texas, after their rescue on Saturday.

A day after the U.S. Coast Guard said it was suspending its weeklong search for the boaters, the men were found alive Saturday night.

The crew of a Good Samaritan vessel found Curtis Hall, 28, James Phillips, 30, and Tressel Hawkins, 43, sitting on top of their capsized 23-foot fishing vessel about 180 miles from Port Aransas, Texas, the Coast Guard said in a news release.

The men had been missing at sea since they failed to return from a fishing trip on August 22.

The Coast Guard had called off their search Friday after it said it had looked over more than 86,000 square miles.

Hall went to a hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas, but left after he waited too long in the emergency room, his mother told CNN. He returned to his home in Palacio, Texas, to rest and will see a doctor later on Sunday for what he thinks are second-degree burns on his legs from sun exposure, she said.

After the rescue, Phillips was on his way home to reunite with his family, his wife, Shane, told CNN. He did not seek medical attention, she said.

Hawkins suffered open sores on his legs after floating in the water for eight days, he told CNN from the emergency room of a Corpus Christi hospital. He plans to leave the hospital soon and head to Fort Worth, Texas, to reunite with his family, he said. E-mail to a friend | Mixx it | Share

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pearland Bank Robbery

PEARLAND, Texas—Police are looking for an armed man who robbed a Wells Fargo Bank in Pearland.

BCSO photo

It happened Friday morning at the bank, located on FM 518 and Highway 288.

Police say that the man walked into the bank, fired shots into the ceiling, and had everyone lie on the ground.

The suspect then climbed over the counter and had the tellers pull the money out and place it into a large black trash bag, say authorities. They say the thief then fled on foot with about $37,000 in case.

The thief was wearing a dark blue long sleeve shirt, blue jeans, tan shoes, dark ball cap and sunglasses. He also covered his face with a bandana.

Investigators say the suspect is approximately 5 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall, and has a slender build.

Anyone with information on the heist is encouraged to contact the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Department at (281) 331-9000.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Freak shooting claims boy

HOUSTON – KHOU A tragic accident has claimed the life of an 11-year-old boy in Southwest Houston.

View larger E-mail Clip More Video
It happened on Wednesday evening.

Police say a telephone was ringing inside of his family’s home on Blanchard Hill Lane and the boy was trying to find it.

He tossed his mom's backpack to the floor and a pistol that was inside the backpack went off.

The boy was shot in the head and died.

Police say at this time it does not appear any laws were broken. The gun was in the home legally

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Houston hair glue bandit victim videos prankster with cell phone

HOUSTON -- Another woman has come forward saying she too, was a victim of the so-called hair glue bandit. The woman says it happened in a Marshalls in Southwest Houston. She was looking at cookbooks when she felt something in her hair.

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"There was this man standing about a foot and a half beside me. He said, ‘Excuse me,’ and I said, ‘It's ok.’ But then I felt something warm on the back of my head," said the hair glue bandit’s latest victim, who wishes to remain anonymous. "There was this white substance on my hand. It dried instantly."

The victim says she was able to pull out her cell phone and capture video of the man who poured the glue on her.

Plus, because she didn't want him to disappear into a busy parking lot, she followed him out and took down the license plate of the car he was in. She then passed the information over to the police.

Over the past few weeks, glue victims have been studying a surveillance video taken from another attack. The latest victim claims the same man poured the glue in her hair.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pearland man helps passengers on Continental flight 128

By Kevin Reece and Jeremy Desel / 11 News
HOUSTON – Passengers aboard Continental flight 128 arrived in Houston Monday with a terrifying tale to share.

As emergency vehicles rushed to the plane on the Miami tarmac, catering truck elevators were used to rescue injured passengers.

Diego Saavedra was on the plane. He said passengers and flight attendants were flying inside the cabin.

“All of a sudden, the plane like takes a dip and rises up and you see people going off their seats, people screaming,” said Saavedra. “One lady, she just came out of her seat and flew over the middle row, hit her head on the wall and landed on her back.”

Passengers took pictures inside the plane that show items falling out of the ceiling and cracked plastic.

The damage was caused by flight attendants and passengers hitting the ceiling, said John Norwood who was also on the flight.

“People who weren’t belted in flew up and hit the ceiling, so their faces and heads hit the plastics and broke the plastics all at the top,” said Norwood.

Celi Defaria hit the roof too. She has a scar that runs the length of the right side of her face.

“All of a sudden it came down. Everybody bumped heads twice because it came down again," she said. "It was terrifying. It happened in one faction of a second."

The incident occurred at 3:30 a.m. while most passengers were sleeping.

“I’ve never seen turbulence like that. I really thought we wouldn’t make it,” said Giovani Loss.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Feds Bust Medicare Fraud Ring In Houston Area

HOUSTON—Federal authorities arrested 27 people in Houston Wednesday in a major Medicare fraud bust that spanned across the country.

Medicare fraud raid

Investigators claim the suspects were scamming Medicare by falsely billing for medical items that were not needed or never used.

Arrests were also made in New York, Boston and Louisiana. In all, 32 people were taken into custody.

More than 200 agents worked on Wednesday’s $16 million bust, which included 12 search warrants at health care businesses and homes across the Houston area.

One of those businesses was Memorial Medical Supply on Dairy Ashford and I-10.

Shocked employees were met by federal agents when they arrived at work.

Federal agents raided several locations in Houston after a nationwide investigation into Medicare fraud.
The agents confiscated paperwork and a computer.

They were also seen removing boxes of evidence from the business.

Federal authorities say the businesses were giving patients “arthritis kits,” which were nothing more than expensive orthotics, including knee and shoulder braces. Patients told authorities they were unnecessary, and many never used them. But health care clinic owners billed $3,000 - $4,000 for each kit.

Houston’s other scam involved billing Medicare for thousands of dollars worth of liquid food for patients who can’t eat solids. Authorities said clinic owners never distributed the food to patients. In some cases, clinic owners billed patients who were dead when they allegedly received the items.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Regents point the way on college budget

The Alvin Community College Board of Regents provided direction to administrators to complete the 2009-2010 Maintenance and Operations Budget at a regular meeting immediately following a budget workshop on July 23.

The proposed 2009-2010 budget of $23,930,941 represents a 3.45 percent increase over last year and will include funds for two new instructors, to address the growth in dual credit courses at local high schools, a salary step adjustment for eligible employees and a two percent salary adjustment only for approximately 76 full-time employees who have no more step increase options due to their long length of employment and qualifications.

The balance of the increase “has a lot to do with fixed costs…that we don’t have any control over (such as utilities, fees, insurance, etc.),” ACC President Dr. Rodney Allbright said.

Due to the approval of Texas House Bill 4586 in June, ACC recently received $2,358,771 in natural disaster relief funds from the state to address damage caused by Hurricane Ike, Allbright reported.

“This is really good news,” he stated. “We didn’t receive enough insurance to cover the reconstruction.”

In an effort to save money, the college has been acting as general contractor for the campus reconstruction project and recently completed Building A.

Prior to finalizing and approving the budget and college district tax rate, regents are waiting for the Brazoria County Appraisal District to issue a certified effective tax rate.

Allbright recommended that the board call for a special meeting as soon as the effective tax rate is established in order to meet numerous legal requirements prior to anticipated budget approval near the end of August.

The budget is funded by three main sources, including state appropriations, tuition and fees and local tax revenues.

In other matters, ACC Broadcast Communications Department Chair Bill Lewis made a presentation to the board in preparation for the upcoming Southern Association of Colleges and Schools reaffirmation of accreditation, which is required every 10 years. Lewis provided information regarding the training, certificates and degree options currently offered in radio and television broadcasting at the college.

“As someone who does a lot of listening on the outside,” ACC Board Chairman L. H. “Pete” Nash said to Lewis, “you guys have a really excellent reputation.”

For the next approximately 15 months, presentations will be made to board members that will cover the programs and services available at ACC. Information from these presentations will be included in the application for reaffirmation.

During the meeting, regents also approved: acceptance of retirement letter from ACC Texas Department of Criminal Justice program instructor Lew Garrett; renewal of the Victory insurance policy in the amount of $86,238 (for 19 months); renewal of deposit bank contract with First National Bank; renewal of Internet Blackboard/WebCT contract in the amount of $33,100 (for three years); budget revisions in preparation for the closure of the 2008-2009 fiscal year; 2009-2010 Carl Perkins Basic Grant in the amount of $244,939; authorization for proposed budget expenditures necessary for the start of the fall semester; personnel appointment of Saul Olivares as a new foreign languages instructor; replacement of desktop computers damaged by Hurricane Ike; financial report ending June 30; and the check register.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Pearland man Charged With Rape While In Iraq

A former civilian defense contractor from Pearland was charged Friday with sexually assaulting a woman at an Iraqi air base.
David Charles Breda Jr., 34, is accused of sexually assaulting a woman in October at Camp Al Asad, Iraq, where he was employed by a subsidiary of Houston-based military contractor KBR Inc.

Breda, who lived in Pearland before he left for Iraq, was arrested Thursday at a Houston-area barber college by agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

A call to his attorney was not immediately returned.

The federal indictment returned Friday in Houston marks the latest allegation of sexual assault involving civilians working for contractors in Iraq.
Jamie Leigh Jones, formerly of Conroe, drew national attention in 2007 when she went public with allegations she was raped by co-workers while working for KBR/Halliburton in 2005.

The Associated Press usually does not identify people alleging sexual assault, but Jones' face and name have been broadcast in media reports and on her own Web site.
After Jones testified about the assault at a Congressional committee hearing, other women also said they were sexually assaulted while in Iraq and testified before Congress. It was unclear whether prosecutors had filed any criminal charges based on those allegations.

KBR and Halliburton, which split in 2007, have disputed Jones' account of how the companies responded to her allegations. KBR did not immediately return a message left Friday for comment.

The indictment did not identify the woman in Breda's case, and it is not known whether she also worked for the contractor.
A detention hearing for Breda is set for Wednesday in Houston. If convicted, Breda faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000 and up to a life term of supervised release. He also would be required to register as a sex offender.

Brazoria County Man Struck By Lightning/Saved By Cop

Cop Saves Man Struck By Lightning
Updated: Saturday, 11 Jul 2009, 10:53 AM CDT
Published : Friday, 10 Jul 2009, 9:39 PM CDT

HOUSTON - A Brazoria County man is struck by lighting on his drive home from work--and survives.

Last month Chris Camacho, 35, left work in Houston headed to his home in Brazoria when he saw a flash of light.

"It was the brightest light you've ever seen," he said. "I thought I was hit by something massive."

As it turns out, Camacho's car was struck by a bolt of lightning. Quickly filling with smoke and intense heat, the car stopped in the middle of Highway 288 in Pearland. Camacho says he tried to get out, but the electrical current pushed him back in.

"It happened so fast, it was like a dream. I never thought something like this could happen to me."

The lightning entered through the car's antenna and blew out the back window, popped the trunk, deployed the air bags and melted much of the interior.

"It was the hottest heat, I felt it on my back," said Camacho.


Pearland Man Arrested for Indecent Exposure

Pearland man charged with indecent exposure at Friendswood Public Library
10:44 AM CDT on Friday, July 10, 2009 staff report
FRIENDSWOOD, Texas—A Pearland man was in custody Friday after police said he was caught masturbating at the Friendswood Public Library.

Friendswood PD

Thomas Whitmarsh
Police were called to the library, located at 416 S. Friendswood, around 7:20 p.m. Thursday.

A library employee reported seeing Thomas Whitmarsh, 68, exposing himself and masturbating in an open area of the library.

Whitmarsh told police he’d recently been caught doing the same thing by officers in Pearland.

He said he was not cited in that incident.

Friendswood police have not yet confirmed that with Pearland authorities.

Friendswood library personnel had consulted with police twice before in June, expressing conern about Whitmarsh’s suspicious behavior.

Whitmarsh was charged with indecent exposure and issued a criminal trespass warming.

He’s currently being held in the Friendswood Municipal Jail on $1,000 bond.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

New Pearland High Principal named

Larry Berger has been named the new principal of Pearland High School.
Berger, who served as assistant principal at the school for the last two years, has worked in education for more than a decade.
Before coming to Pearland ISD, he served as an assistant principal at a middle school and a high school in Victoria.
Berger holds a master’s degree in administration and supervision from the University of Houston-Victoria. He replaces Michele Staley, who accepted a position in the Clear Creek school district.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Houston Area 4th of July Fireworks Events

HOUSTON—The 4th of July means fireworks across the U.S. and Houston is no exception.

There are dozens of celebrations in our area, but the largest is the Freedom over Texas festival this weekend. It is presented by Shell.

The free event is at Eleanor Tinsley Park. This year, organizers are honoring Houston’s military heroes and the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. Country singer, Texas native Clay Walker will be the main act. He will take the stage at 8 p.m. Right after that at 9:30, fireworks will light the sky.

If you’re thinking about heading there you should know about some road that will be closed.

On Thursday, a couple of lanes along Allen Parkway were closed. They include roads between Taft Street and downtown.

Also, starting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Allen Parkway will be completely closed to traffic.

If you’re in The Woodlands, there are several events where you can celebrate.

First there is the Star-Spangled Salute which is being held Friday night at the Cynthia Wood Mitchell Pavilion.

You’ll hear patriotic music presented by the Houston Symphony.

Friday at 9 a.m. you can see the South Montgomery Parade which runs through The Woodlands Town Center and Market Street.

Finally, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. you can head to the Red, Hot and Blue Festival and Fireworks Extravaganza at Town Green Park and Waterway Square.

There’s also a lot to celebrate in Fort Bend County Saturday, July 4 th.

In Sugar Land, the festivities include The Red White and Blue Fest at Oyster Creek Park. Those events begin Saturday and run from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The city of Stafford and the Fort Bend Symphony will celebrate by treating the public to a free patriotic concert.

Freedom Rings 2009 will be held at the Stafford Centre and starts at 5 p.m.

In Missouri City, the public is being treated to a July 4 celebration at Buffalo Run Park.

The fun begins at 5:30 p.m. and the fireworks blare into the night sky at 9.

Chevy Freedom Over Texas Fireworks
Location: Eleanor Tinsley Park
This is by far the largest celebration in the city of Houston, and the fireworks display is one of the biggest in the state. Montgomery Gentry will headline. The festival starts at 4 p.m. with performances by local acts. If you don't feel like braving the crowds, you don't have to miss our on the fun; just tune in to ABC13 from the solitude of your couch.

The Houston Symphony 4th of July Celebration
Location: Miller Outdoor Theatre, Herman Park
Led by principal pops conductor Michael Krajewski. Enjoy an All-American salute to commemorate Independence Day, and end the evening with fireworks presented by the Miller Theatre Advisory Board.

Sam Houston Race Park
The park celebrates Independence Day with special family-friendly activities and a spectacular fireworks display.

Firecracker Hotbox
Location: Gulf Greyhound Park
Come see some of the nation's hottest greyhounds compete.

Kemah Boardwalk
The 4th of July fireworks launch at 9:30 p.m.

SplashTown Fireworks Spectacular
The park sends up the explosives after dusk.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fire destroys Galveston seawall condos

By Chris Paschenko
The Daily News

Published June 4, 2009
GALVESTON — At least 60 units of a Galveston resort were gutted Wednesday by fire, which was started accidentally by welding contractors who were renovating the complex damaged by Hurricane Ike, fire officials said.

Firefighters were called at 2:19 p.m. to Maravilla Resort Condominiums, 9520 Seawall Blvd., and found fire spreading between the second and third floor.

“It was the workers out there doing welding and cutting,” Fire Chief Mike Varela Sr. said of Fire Marshal Gilbert Robinson’s determination. The contractors had a city permit for renovations and were employing a fire watch, Varela said.

Galveston firefighter Gary Vasquez suffered from heat exhaustion and was taken by ground ambulance to Mainland Medical Center in Texas City and released, Varela said.

A medical crew treated some of the contractors at the scene, but they weren’t taken to a hospital, Varela said.

The blaze began in the rear of the complex, working its way toward the seawall side of the structure. About 120 firefighters, including those from Jamaica Beach, Santa Fe, Hitchcock, La Marque and Texas City were called to the island and helped evacuate about 30 or 40 people from the building. They also fought the blaze and manned fire stations here. There were no further injuries, Varela said.

Firefighters focused their attack at the center of the complex, where Varela said a fire break helped them control the blaze about 5:30 p.m.

Much of the upper units of the three-story complex were gutted, and many more sustained smoke and water damage, Varela said.

Lloyd W. Rinderer, an assistant city manager for Galveston, said he lost his condo of six years to the blaze. Rinderer, who is also treasurer of the condo’s homeowner’s association, said he would reside on his boat at The Galveston Yacht Club, just as he did not long after the storm.

“We were a month from completing Hurricane Ike repairs,” Rinderer said of the Sept. 13 storm’s damaging effects. “There were 164 units and there were about 10 people who were actually living there.”


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Breaking News: Galveston Condo Fire

Massive fire destroys dozens of beachfront condos in Galveston
06:50 PM CDT on Wednesday, June 3, 2009

By Michelle Homer / 11 News
GALVESTON -- Every firefighter in Galveston battled a huge 5-alarm fire on the island's West End Wednesday afternoon. The blaze at the beachfront Miravilla Resort Condominiums burned out of control for several hours.

The fire broke out around 2:15 p.m. and Galveston fire crews were on the scene minutes later.

Even off-duty Galveston firefighters were called in to help battle the blaze.

They also brought in help from surrounding communities including Jamaica Beach, Texas City, La Marque and Santa Fe.

When Air 11 first arrived, the flames were confined to one corner of the complex.

Also Online
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Within minutes, the fire had spread to dozens of other units. There are 164 units in the complex.

"We went from an offensive to a defensive fire real quick to not put the firefighters in harm's way because the fire was spreading so quickly," said Galveston Fire Chief Mike Varela.

The wind shifted in the middle of the fire, adding to their challenge.

Everyone inside was evacuated safely, according to Galveston officials.

The flames spread quickly through dozens of units at the Miravilla condos.
One firefighter was transported to an area hospital after suffering heat exhaustion.

"His blood pressure was down real low and they were trying to get it stable again," said Varela.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

The first word might have been easy for some junior high students to spell. The second one, not so much.
But on Wednesday, a Pearland seventh-grader made his school proud when he managed to spell both “diabetes” and “nenuphar” correctly, becoming one of 41 semifinalists at the 82nd Scripps National Spelling Bee competition in Washington, D.C.

Aditya Chemudupaty , who attends Nolan Ryan Junior High School in the Shadow Creek Ranch subdivision of the Alvin school district, was among 293 youths competing. While diabetes may be a common word to some, few people probably know what nenuphar means — it’s a European water lily.

As a result of their feats Wednesday, the Pearland hero and the other semi-finalists from across the country will compete on stage from 9 a.m. to noon today, with the competition being broadcast live on ESPN. His classmates and teachers will be watching, said Principal Deborah Roberson.
It felt “really, really good to get this far,” Aditya said after the semifinalists were announced. But he acknowledged a case of nerves.

“I feel really, really anxious about tomorrow,” he said.
Aditya said he would be practicing all evening the night before the big day.
“I’ll be studying my spelling list with my mom,” he said.
Aditya was calm onstage during the two oral rounds Wednesday, however, speaking clearly and with barely any hesitation between letters. His goals for today: “Concentrate and don’t hurry. Take your time, and watch the clock.”

“Aditya is a very, very good student,” Roberson said Wednesday night. “This is something he’s been working on all year long. He’s just very self-disciplined.

“Part of his routine is he will get up early in the morning and study for an hour or two, then come to school. Then when he gets home from school, after he does his homework, for another hour or two he’ll go back over and practice his spelling.”
The championship finalists will square off for the final round beginning at 7 tonight. That competition will air live on ABC-TV. The champion will win a $30,000 cash prize, a $5,000 scholarship, a $2,500 U.S. Savings Bond and other prizes.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Forecasters to make predictions about 2009 hurricane season

Forecasters to make predictions about 2009 hurricane season

Top federal weather forecasters on Thursday will be announcing their eagerly anticipated predictions for this year's Atlantic hurricane season -- a season likely to be as active as last year.

Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and others will make their forecast public at a news conference to be held at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in northern Virginia.

On hand will be Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco and Bill Read, NOAA's National Hurricane Center director, along with a host of other federal officials.

Government forecasters were right on the mark with their 2008 predictions -- a very active hurricane season. The numbers: 16 named storms, eight hurricanes, five of them major.

Scientists had projected that the 2008 season would bring 12 to 16 named storms that would grow into six to nine hurricanes, two to five of which would be Category 3 or stronger.

Gerry Bell, NOAA's lead seasonal Atlantic hurricane forecaster, has said the gradual warming of the Atlantic Ocean, combined with an active tropical era of storms that began in 1995, will likely mean busy hurricane seasons in the future.

Florida was spared the worst of last year's hurricane season. Only Tropical Storm Fay struck the region hard.

That was not the case for our Caribbean neighbors. Cuba and Haiti got pounded by a succession of major hurricanes and storms, resulting in heavy damage and lost lives.

Feel free to prepare for storm

By John Lowman
The Facts
Published May 20, 2009

LAKE JACKSON — Emergency planners are preparing themselves for the possibility of another hurricane striking close to home, and they encourage area residents to take advantage of a free opportunity to do the same.

The annual “Perfect Storm” hurricane preparedness seminar will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Lake Jackson Civic Center, Brazoria County Emergency Management Coordinator Kenneth “Doc” Adams said. This year’s event is themed “Lessons Learned from Ike” after Hurricane Ike blasted the area last September, causing billions of dollars in damage from Brazoria County to Sabine Pass.

One of the main focuses is being prepared, Adams said.

“Some of the people who evacuated suffered hardships last year they would not have had to suffer if they’d have read our brochure,” Adams said of a booklet set to be mailed to all county residents. “If they’d have taken a few minutes and looked at it, they would have been much better prepared.”

That is the reason for the seminar, Brazoria County Marine Extension Agent Rich Tillman said.

“We want to protect lives and property,” Tillman said. “Since we’re right on the coast, everybody in Brazoria County is vulnerable to some extent.”

Two of the three 2-1-1 evacuation hubs in the county are moved. The former Alvin location this year will be at Dawson High School in Pearland, while the Angleton hub will be at the Brazoria County Fairgrounds. The West Columbia site remains at the West Columbia Civic Center.


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