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- Written by Jeffry Tupa
Cutline: Harris County Tax Assessor Collector Mike Sullivan, speaking at the Lone Star College System Leadership North Houston 19th annual graduation and awards dinner, was awarded the Leadership North Houston Alumni Distinguished Community Leader award. Leadership North Houston honors Sullivan, Mingoia The Lone Star College System Leadership North Houston honored Darcy Mingoia and Mike Sullivan during its 19th annual graduation and awards dinner held May 15. Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Mike Sullivan was recognized with the Leadership North Houston Alumni Distinguished Community Leader Award, which is presented to an alumnus who goes above and beyond, has the quality of empowering and inspiring others, and has made significant contributions in the North Harris County community. Sullivan, who was selected from five finalists, received his associate of arts degree from LSC-Kingwood in 2011 and is a graduate of Leadership North Houston Class VI in 2001. He is a Kingwood resident, a former Humble ISD School Board member and a former Houston City Council member. Mingoia was presented the John Pickelman Leadership North Houston Fellow Award for her impact of work and outstanding leadership qualities that benefit the entire community. Leadership North Houston, formed in 1995, is the regions premier resource for leadership development and civic education designed to enhance and leverage leadership potential within all sectors of the North Houston community. Developing civic leadership that is effective, knowledgeable and engaged is the purpose of this dynamic and interactive program. Lone Star College System SBDC seeks nominations for awards The Lone Star College System Small Business Development Center Advisory Council is now accepting nominations from the community for the 28th Annual Small Business of the Year awards, sponsored by BBVA Compass Bank. Small business owners are chosen based on leadership, entrepreneurial spirit, business growth and success, and a meaningful contribution to the community. Three finalists will be selected from each of the six college service areas and ultimately one winner from each college area will be named. The deadline for nomination entries is Aug. 1. Kingwood Area Mobility Survey to Close June 30 On Monday, June 30, the online survey created to collect resident input for the Kingwood Area Mobility Study will close. Council Member Dave Martin encourages all Kingwood residents who have not already participated to take the survey before the June 30 deadline.The primary objective of the study is to identify short, medium and long range projects intended to address the growth of the community, promote better mobility in the Kingwood area and improve the overall quality of life for the community's residents. To complete this survey, please visit www.surveymonkey.com/s/kingwoodmobility Health Care Reform update to be discussed at luncheon Paul Foery of Insperity will present an update on Health Care Reform and discuss how businesses can prepare at the Salute To Health Care Luncheon July 15 at The Overlook. The event will also honor finalists for the "Nurse of the Year" and "Health Care Professional of the Year." The luncheon will culminate with the announcement of who is the ultimate winner from each category. Reservations for the luncheon must be made by noon Friday, July 11. The cost to attend is $25 for chamber members $25 and $30 for non-members. Reservations can be made online at LakeHouston.org or by calling 281-441-2128. Build a Better Bus System METRO is hosting several public meetings at City of Houston Multi-Service Centers on the agency's draft five-year transit plan. The meetings are "open house" in format and will provide a brief overview of the System Reimagining project and the major changes proposed under the plan. Several stations will be set up at which visitors will be able to learn and discuss aspects of the redesigned system, and to share their comments. The redesign of METRO's local bus system has been underway for more than a year. The plan aims to connect more people to more places with more frequent service seven days a week. For an overview of the proposed plan, visit ridemetro.org. The public's feedback is an important step in the process as the draft plan is refined before it goes to the METRO board for its review and approval. Following board approval, the new bus plan is slated to be implemented in the summer of 2015. No Rise in Taxes by College District The Lone Star College System Board of Trustees unanimously approved the 2014 tax exemptions for qualified residents in Harris, Montgomery and San Jacinto counties.The 2014 tax exemptions continue the same as 2013. The board vote took place earlier this month at the June board meeting. Last year, LSCS also reduced the property rate tax by 3 percent to 11.6 cents per $100 property valuation for the 2013-14 tax year. That reduction was the sixth time in the last 10 years the board has lowered the property tax rate for LSCS taxpayers. The 2014 tax exemptions are as follows: homestead exemption $5,000 or 1 percent, whichever is greater; over 65 exemption $75,000; and disability exemption $75,000. Taxpayers who are eligible for the over 65 or disability exemption will automatically qualify for a tax freeze (actual dollar tax amount owed is frozen), as approved by the board in September 2006. "Building a Successful Business Growth Plan" set for July 30 Lone Star College Business Development Center's Jan Koenig will present a free seminar onBuilding a Successful Business Growth Plan as part of Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerces Seminar Series. The seminar will benefit growing businesses of any sizes and is planned from9 10 a.m. on Wednesday, July 30, at the chamber office. "The seminar teaches the steps of preparing a well-organized growth plan for your existing business," Koenig said. "Having a well-documented and well-thought-out plan can help businesses get the funding they need to expand and helps business owners get prepared for what's to come. With a good plan in place, they can track progress as they embark on the exciting journey of watching their business evolve to the next level.Free for chamber members; $10 for guests. Reservations can be made at Lakehouston.org or by calling 281-446-2128. Boat Buying Season Scams It's summer boating season and some boat buyers and sellers are getting ripped off, says the Boat Owners Association of the United States. The national boater advocacy, safety and services group outlined the top boat-selling scams reported to its Consumer Protection Bureau and offers some ways to greatly improve the chance of a smooth sale or purchase and when to walk away. Getting a cashier's check or money for more than asking price: Anytime a buyer offers to pay more for the asking price run away. Today, its easy for criminals to print counterfeit bank checks, and by the time the bank figures out the loss, the bad guys are far away, and the seller will be liable for the lost funds. Always contact the financial institution on which the check was drawn to verify the account, but dont dial the phone number printed on the check, if possible. The amount of the bank check should also match in numerals and words, and the account number should not be shiny in appearance. Official checks are generally perforated on at least one side. A twist on the same for the electronic age: Recently PayPal has become a target for scammers. A phony buyer again asks to send substantially more than the asking price. Later, the seller gets a fake confirmation email from PayPal with their user ID for more than the agreed purchase price with instructions from the buyer advising them to send the extra money to a shipper. The scam can seem even more legit a refusal may lead to additional fake email notices from PayPal threatening to close the account. An escrow service scam: A bogus seller advertises a boat on a website at a low, but not scam-worthy price. When the scammer finds a buyer, they will tell them to use a legitimate sounding yet fictitious escrow service, like GoogleMoney.com. But once the funds are transferred, the buyer will never hear from the seller again. It's wise to use an escrow service for a long-distance purchase, but be very cautious with unfamiliar escrow services, and go with established providers such as eBay's Escrow.com. Email red flags: Poor grammar, spelling and language use; no phone number for the buyer/seller; generic references (ex. "merchandise") to the boat being sold; changing names and locations in emails; a buyer who shows no interest in haggling over price or seeing the boat firsthand; a buyer or seller who has no interest in discussing titling or verifying the boat's Hull Identification Number (HIN). For a free buying and selling guide for boaters, go to boatus.com/consumer.