Insperity commits $1 million to The Lake Houston Area Relief Fund, another $1 million to The Insperity Fund

Insperity, Inc. announced a commitment of up to $2 million to help the local community recover from the widespread devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. Insperity, in concert with other local organizations, has helped to establish The Lake Houston Area Relief Fund to help families and businesses in the local community rebuild in the aftermath of the storm. The company will match up to $1 million in donations, leading an effort to encourage other businesses and individuals to give generously to the local community at this time of substantial need. In addition, Insperity contributed $1 million to The Insperity Fund, a financial-aid program for the company’s corporate employees.
“Our hearts go out to all those who have suffered during Hurricane Harvey,” said Paul J. Sarvadi, Insperity chairman and chief executive officer. “This catastrophic event has impacted lives and businesses across Southeast Texas, including our own customers and employees, and recovery will take all of us working together. To that end, we are spearheading a call to action through the Lake Houston Area Relief Fund and Insperity matching gifts initiative for other businesses and individuals to donate in an effort to help our area rebuild and allow our community to continue to prosper and grow.”
The Lake Houston Area Relief Fund, facilitated by Humble Area Assistance Ministries, was organized by Insperity, Somebody Cares Humble, Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce, and other community leaders based on an overwhelming response from citizens and companies to help with recovery efforts.
Residents and businesses in the Lake Houston area are eligible to receive grants if they were directly affected by Hurricane Harvey. Other eligibility requirements include proof of communication with and response from FEMA and homeowner/renter insurance companies. Upon approval, grant funding will be sent directly to third-party vendors, such as mortgage and utility companies. For more information about the Lake Houston Area Relief Fund, visit lakehoustonarearelieffund.org.
The Lake Houston Area Relief Fund is patterned after Insperity’s successful internal program, The Insperity Fund, an ongoing program, which offers financial aid to corporate employees experiencing a time of crisis. While Insperity provides corporate contributions to this fund, it is primarily sustained by employee donations. However, in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Insperity is bolstering the fund with a $1 million contribution.
“Insperity employees executed our disaster recovery plan in a flawless manner from the preparation prior to the storm and continuing until normal operations were restored,” added Sarvadi. “We are not aware of a single service request from any client that was not met in spite of the severity of the storm in the home of our corporate headquarters. In addition, outbound calls to support and assist our more than 1,200 clients in the affected area were conducted throughout this period.”

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and the subsequent devastating floodwaters, two local high schools have merged to form two schools sharing a single physical campus. That is, the students of Kingwood High School (KHS) entered the 2017-2018 school year at Summer Creek High School (SCHS) in Atascocita.

The halls of KHS, flooded to destruction, are already under construction and the doors are set to reopen in the fall of 2018. It was decided two weeks ago to put KHS on the campus of SCHS with modified class times.
To help with this transition, an Open House event was held Saturday, Sept. 9 at SCHS. The purpose was to unite two former rival schools and be an example and ambassador to both towns.
“I’m excited for the chance to show everyone that this transition didn’t break us, but moved us to be our very best. We may be blue at a maroon school, but we are proud of our accomplishments,” said Annie Ortiz, Kingwood High student body president.
For many of the staff, administration and custodial team members of KHS, this is an emotional journey of cleaning the classrooms and starting anew at a new campus with new books, supplies, instruments and uniforms. As many have noted, it is heartbreaking to think about the devastation that ravaged the school, as well as the families that have been negatively impacted as the waters rose in the final days of August.

Despite these adversities, SCHS opened its doors to all students and staff to ensure as little disruption as possible. The parents and staff of Summer Creek worked tirelessly around the clock to ensure their home is ready to take on new schedules and new faces.
Upon attending the Open House, all students were welcomed with smiles by local individuals; some of the volunteers were local faces that do not have students at either school but felt compelled to serve. Student council representatives helped by handing out classroom schedules and walked new students around with map in-hand. Ortiz said, “It is an honor to be looked at as a resource for advice by fellow students, regardless of the school name.”
The Bulldogs of SCHS welcomed their new campus mates with warm, wrapped hot dogs. Some of these treats were even walked around the crowds to create personal interactions. There were handmade, glittery signs lining the halls and floors of the school created by students and parents.
The Mustangs of KHS showed gratitude by collecting gift cards for the Bulldog staff, providing a place for parents and students to write thank-you notes, and finally, Post-It notes were made available and hung on lockers with encouraging notes to ease any anxieties the students may have had as they began their new chapter Monday, Sept. 11.
Local businesses, schools such as Kingwood Park High School, and the Humble ISD Education Foundation donated school supplies, backpacks and even shoes to students who experienced loss.
“We want all around us to know that through it all, our spirits are not broken and we are stronger together,” Ortiz said.

 

 

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Christie Craddick made it unanimous. On Sept. 12, the chair of the three-member Texas Railroad Commission became the final non-judicial statewide office-holder to announce for re-election in 2018.

She and all the others are Republicans. And if the voter habits of Texans continue bright Red, as they have for the past two decades, whoever wins the Republican primaries next spring – probably them --will win in the November general election.

Texas Democrats, with the 20-plus year longest losing streak for any state in electing statewide officials, hope that will change in 2018.

That hope is fueled by the low ratings for Republican President Donald Trump, even though he isn't on the ballot in 2018. Trump easily took Texas in 2016, by nine percent, but is tracking in the high 30s today.

Also, Republican U. S. Sen. Ted Cruz, upset GOP primary winner in 2012 over then-Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for the senate seat vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison, also faces approval ratings in the 30s – and is up for re-election in 2018.

"I think you are going to see a dam break in Texas politics," predicted third-term U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio. Castro is mentioned as a possible statewide candidate next year, although he earlier this year ruled out running for Cruz's seat next year.

Castro said after a Democratic rally at the capitol in Austin that the combination of Trump's unpopularity, even though he isn't personally on the ballot in 2018, makes things worse for Republicans who are facing re-election next year – including Cruz, whose own low poll ratings are helping rev up Democratic enthusiasm.

Plus, Democrats are still angry about efforts to control bathroom use by transgenders, led by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and supported by Gov. Greg Abbott. Both are seeking re-election in 2018.

El Paso Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, also in his third term, is seeking the nomination to contest Cruz. His campaign, featuring Facebook live-streaming of his recent tour through 143 of the state's 254 counties, has gotten lots of attention.

Part of the appeal, observers say, is that O'Rourke, who drew impressive crowds at 38 town hall meetings during the congressional recess, doesn't spend his time trashing Trump, Cruz or other Republicans.

While conceding his race is uphill, O'Rourke spends his time concentrating on his positive message of what he'll do if elected, including bipartisan cooperation, rather than bashing Cruz.

Observations about 2018:
Midterm Elections for New Presidents --

If history is a guide, the party of a new president suffers losses in Congress and state legislatures in the mid-term elections two years after the presidential election.

That happened in spades to Democrat Barack Obama, in the 2010 election, after his 2008 election, and the passage of ObamaCare.

The same happened to Democrat Bill Clinton, in the 1994 midterm elections following his 1992 election, and failed effort to pass health care reform.

The 2002 mid-term election after Republican George W. Bush was elected in 2000 was an exception – mostly because of the 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001. The Republicans capitalized on backing their party to express support for Bush -- and it worked, even though he wasn't on the ballot.

This time, the political cards may be stacked favoring Democratic gains.

A Few Other Races –
Governor: So far, no Democratic heavyweights. Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa hopes Joaquin Castro, who hasn't ruled it out, might run.

Joaquin Castro is the congressional member of the Castro family. His twin brother, Julian Castro, the former San Antonio Mayor, and President Barack Obama's secretary of Housing and Urban Development, has ruled out a 2018 race, while working on a book and teaching.

One observer suggested Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who spent a quarter century in the Texas House of Representatives.

Lieutenant Governor: Mike Collier, the corporate auditor and chief financial officer, was the Democratic nominee for comptroller in 2014, He has shifted his sights for 2018 to being presiding officer of the Texas Senate, and next in line for the governorship

Collier, of Houston, is already actively campaigning, in person and on-line.

U.S. House of Representatives: This category is caught in a sort of limbo right now. A three-judge federal court has ruled two of Texas' 36 districts – currently split 25 Republicans and 95 Democrats -- were drawn unconstitutionally to discriminate against minorities.

The U.S. Supreme Court, however, has put a stay on the opinion while the high court considers the case. Whether that will result in a quick decision one way or the other, or more likely, have the 2018 elections carried out using the same districts that already exist, remains to be seen.

Texas House of Representatives: The three-judge court also ruled that nine of Texas' 150 districts in the Texas House were also drawn on a discriminatory basis. The high court also put a hold on enforcement of that decision.

If the court decides to allow the redistricting for the 2018 elections, it's a whole new ballgame.

At the September board meeting, Humble ISD trustees found themselves in the middle of the second week of a long and painful recovery from the most damaging hurricane to hit the Houston Gulf Coast area since the great Galveston hurricane of 1900. Hurricane Harvey flooded much of the community, resulting in severe damage to two district facilities. Kingwood High School is closed for up to a year and the Eggers Instructional Support Center for months. 

Although the beginning of school was delayed, Humble ISD is up and running. It was reported that over 41,000 students – 96 percent of the expected enrollment – had shown up for school in the first week.
At the meeting, board members reported that 23 facilities sustained some sort of damage, with the estimated damage at Kingwood High School in the area of $40 million. It is estimated to take 20-35 more days just to dry the building out before administrators can get into it, where they expect to find more problems not yet identified.
The business part of the meeting concentrated on the status of all of the schools now that the school term has started, including Kingwood and Summer Creek high schools.

Those students are sharing the Summer Creek campus on a split-shift basis. After the first two days, both parents and the administration acknowledged the process was a logistical challenge. The challenge is in terms of the total time required for buses to get to and from the Summer Creek facility at the south end of the district from Kingwood in the north end of the district. The second day was reportedly much better compared to the first day. Administrative officials are hopeful that the overall trend in improvement will continue as experience and adjustments to schedules are made.
Three Kingwood parents expressed their support as well as concerns about the Kingwood/Summer Creek split-shift operation. Albert Seyegh, the father of two Kingwood High School students, said, “I appreciate the district’s efforts in trying to create a solution that is tenable, at least for the time being. I appreciate the collaboration between Summer Creek and Kingwood high schools. My primary concern is my childrens’ high school experience. Yesterday, my daughters boarded a bus at 10:30 a.m. and arrived at Summer Creek at 12:17: one hour, 45 minutes on the bus.”
Their trip home began when they boarded the bus at 5 p.m. and arrived home at 6:30 p.m. Seyegh said, “They were tired. They were in good spirits and were excited about school, but it was a long day. I am concerned about my daughters. I don’t have a solution but I do have a historical precedent.”
Seyegh explained the precedent was during the 2007-8 school year when Kingwood High School had major renovations made and 23 temporary buildings were located behind the baseball fields. He asked that these kinds of ideas be considered as soon as possible, especially if the school will be out of service for a full year.
The two other parents who spoke echoed the same concerns. Fagen and the board responded that these alternatives had been considered. “We are all in this together” was the general consensus as the recovery continues to move forward. In other business, the board approved boundary lines for Middle School No. 9, to be opened in 2018, which are anticipated to alleviate overcrowding at Timberwood and Willowcreek middle schools. In addition, elementary students currently zoned to Eagle Springs Elementary will eventually attend Timberwood Middle School, while some students zoned to Atascocita Springs Elementary will attend Timberwood Middle School and others will attend the new middle school, depending on their residence address. Some students from Lakeshore Elementary will attend Middle School No. 9 while others will be zoned to Woodcreek Middle.
Teachers of the Year from each of the district’s eight middle schools and six high schools and the district’s Career and Technology Education Center were recognized. They are: Priscilla Kovacik (Atascocita MS); Ellen Chaney (Creekwood MS), also honored as a district finalist; Tomekka Williams (Humble MS); Michelle Neyrey (Kingwood MS); Shayla Green (Riverwood MS), also honored as a district finalist; Koshika Smith (Ross Sterling MS); Heather Syska (Timberwood MS); Cornelia Patterson (Woodcreek MS); Carlee Kennedy (Atascocita HS), district teacher of the year; Saul Tapia (Humble HS); David Kniess (Kingwood HS); Amy Balke (Kingwood Park HS), also honored as campus teacher of the year; Brett Crawford (Quest Early College), also honored as campus teacher of the year; Hayley Hueske (Summer Creek HS); and Kira Newsroom (CATE Center).

 

 

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Acting Regional Administrator Dorothy Overal of the U.S. Small Business Administration announced today that SBA has approved $265,581,100 in federal disaster loans for Texas businesses and residents impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
 
According to Overal, SBA has approved 226 loans for $20,323,000 for businesses and 2,919 loans for $245,258,100 for residents to help rebuild and recover from this terrible disaster.
 
“SBA’s disaster assistance employees are committed to helping businesses and residents rebuild as quickly as possible,” said Overal. Businesses and residents who sustained damages are encouraged to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency by visiting www.disasterassistance.gov. This is the fastest way to get help. “Don’t miss out on any assistance you may be entitled to by not registering. You don’t need to wait for your insurance to settle or obtain a contractor’s estimate,” she added.
 
SBA representatives continue to meet with business owners and residents at 23 Federal/State Disaster Recovery Centers and five SBA Business Recovery Centers throughout the impacted area to answer questions about SBA’s disaster loan program, explain the application process, help them complete their application and close their approved loans. For a list of locations, visit SBA’s website at www.sba.gov/disaster. No appointment is necessary.
 
Businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. The SBA can also lend additional funds to help businesses and residents with the cost of making improvements that protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.
 
For small businesses and most private nonprofit organizations of all sizes, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic injury assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage.
 
Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace their damaged or destroyed primary residence. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.
 
Applicants may apply online using SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.