DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI Marsh reminded his audience that Olympians Janelle Atkinson and Alia Atkinson competed during their developmental years at the long-standing meet. “We did have Janelle Atkinson here two years ago, who came through the Burger King Swim Meet, and she came and participated actively, so there has been a relationship with some of the famous alumni,” added Marsh. Title sponsors Burger King and Popeyes will be spending a combined $2 million to mark the 17th renewal. According to Sabrena McDonald-Radcliffe, head of sales and marketing for Restaurant Associates Limited, it reflects their biggest investment in the sport to date. “Both brands are committed to the growth and development of the sport of swimming as it encourages discipline, perseverance and teamwork among young people,” she said. Immaculate Conception High student Zaneta Alvaranga, who recently returned from the Carifta Swimming Championships in Bahamas with six medals – four individual and two relays – including the 50m butterfly record also spoke. “I encourage you to keep loving the sport of swimming, as it will help you to be focused and become a high achiever in everything you do,” the 12-year-old implored the youngsters. The defending girls’ prep champions are Immaculate. However, new champions will be crowned on the boys’ side as Wolmer’s will not be competing. Excelsior are reigning primary schools champions. Meet director Allan Roy Marsh says the 700 children who will be competing at this weekend’s Burger King/Popeyes Prep and Primary Schools Swim meet will be given an oppor-tunity to showcase their talents in an organised and healthy competition. The two-day meet will be held on Friday and Saturday. Action will get under way at 8:30 a.m. each day at the National Aquatics Centre and will showcase prep and primary swimmers ages 6-12. A total of 55 schools – 45 prep and 10 primary – are down to take part. “Through sponsorship of this meet, Burger King is providing opportunities to over 700 kids, many of whom would not have an opportunity to swim in an organised competition,” Marsh outlined at yesterday’s launch at Eden Gardens Wellness Resort and Spa on Lady Musgrave Road.
Share If you’re a life-long Texan, you may have heard of a mutualistas. These mutual aid societies were part of a long tradition in Mexico, and found their way into Texas in the late 1800s. The organizations worked to provide low-income families with resources they otherwise might not have access to. While most disappeared in the 30s and 40s, throughout Texas today there are still a small number of in operation, including one thriving community mutualista in Waco that’s been around for more than 90 years. As Louis Fajardo opens the doors to la mutualista sociedad de jornaleros, he walks towards a concrete wall. “Let me turn the lights on so you can see what I’m talking about,” Fajardo says. Hanging on the wall are black-and-white photos, memories of the organization’s earliest days. Fajardo is a member and president of the group. He points to one specific photo.Louis Fajardo is a member and president of la mutualista sociadade de jornaleros. Today, the group continues the work it originally began more than 90 years ago.“In 1924, these gentleman right here, on this particular day, under this tree which still exists, are the ones that decided to make the mutualista.”The Waco mutualista came together under the banner of union, fraternity and progress, with a specific interest in watching over the working-class community it came from. Its name even reflects that mission: In English, jornaleros means laborers. This idea – says University of Texas professor Emilio Zamora – is the main reason Mexicans that settled in Texas established these groups.“They had to develop new methods for survival and advancements,” Zamora says. “And one of them was the formation of organizations – mutual aid societies.”Across Texas, these groups provided services their community members were being denied, things like education and healthcare. Mutualistas also negotiated for better working conditions, and created insurance funds to take care of members. That made a huge difference in quality-of-life, according to Ernesto Fraga. He publishes El Tiempo, Waco’s local Hispanic newspaper, and his grandparents were some of the earliest members of Waco’s mutualista. Fraga says the mutualistas also preserved culture. “And they were the ones that allowed for the voice of the Mexican-American community to pass on to the next generation and the generations after that.” Heading into the 1900s, the popularity of mutualistas swelled, with more than 100 estimated to be in Texas. That boost — Zamora says – happed, because at that time an “increasing number of Mexicans are brought in to fill the low-skilled occupations and low-waged occupations in the developing industries of the American southwest: ranching, farming, the railroads and mining” The mutualista hall hosts quinceaneras, baptisms and receptions. The money made from rental fees goes towards funding community projects.But during the Great Depression, mutualistas faced financial hardships, and many closed their doors. Today, there’s about 6 still operating in Texas. Waco mutualista president Luis Fajardo says finances are still a concern for these groups. But the one in Waco has – in part – been buoyed for decades by the dance hall they own, and rent out for baptisms or quinceañeras.La mutualista’s dance hall can fit about 400 people. On one night in December, it’s packed with teenagers dancing to cumbias, little kids running around and adults trying to talk to each other over the music. Nights like this one translate to money for the mutualista. Which, Fajardo says, they’ll use to pay bills. “Then the other part, we take when we make a certain amount of money and we’ll say OK this is going into the scholarship fund, OK this is gonna go here, this is going there,” Fajardo explains. On a recent afternoon, the Waco mutualista hosted a Christmas gift giveaway. Part of the money Fajardo and the membership made this year went towards buying nearly $3,000 worth of toys – like dolls, trucks, and bikes, all given to neighborhood kids, like two-year-old AraBella Chavez.“She just won a bike and that’s what she’s been wanting” says Misty Chavez, AraBella’s mother. Chavez is a mother of 5 and knows volunteers at the mutualista. “So just having something like this is fun and its exciting for them, “Chavez says. “Especially if we ourselves cant afford to get something they want or need.” Filling that gap is why mutualistas were founded in the first place. Fajarado says, even though the times have changed – la mutualista sociedad de jornaleros mission hasn’t. And he’s dedicated to making the mutualista stronger.“I’ll do whatever it takes, along with the membership, to open up and succeed for the mutualista,” Fajardo says. “Now and in the future.In the New Year, Fajarado says the mutualista will continue with building improvements – they’ve already opened up the dance floor and updated light fixtures. But they’ll also look to encourage others to visit – people not just from their South Waco neighborhood, but the community at large. Copyright 2016 KWBU-FM. To see more, visit KWBU-FM.
Share Listen The City of Houston is being taken to task for thousands of violations of the Clean Water Act over the course of five years.The nonprofit group Bayou City Waterkeeper served the city with a 60-day notice of intent to sue over more than 9,000 sewage discharge violations the city had self-reported. The attorney representing Bayou City Waterkeeper suggests the problem could actually be more severe than the city has admitted.What exactly is happening in these sewage discharges and why are so many occurring? Have our major floods affected and exacerbated this problem?In the audio above, Houston Matters producer Michael Hagerty learns more about the violations and their ramifications from Tracy Hester, who teaches environmental law at the UH Law Center.In response to the letter of intent to sue, the City of Houston issued the following statement:In response to a letter from Bayou City Waterkeeper providing a 60-day notice of its intent to sue the City regarding Sanitary Sewer Overflows (“SSOs”), Mayor Sylvester Turner today provided an update on the status of the City’s long-term negotiations with the EPA in connection with improvements of its sanitary sewer system to address SSOs.The City and the EPA have been negotiating the details of a plan for several years, but the damage to the system from Hurricane Harvey and the need to coordinate with FEMA impacted the discussions. Negotiations are now resuming on a plan to supplement the City’s continuation of its work to upgrade its aging sewer system to keep up with the increasing demands of Houston’s rapidly-growing population and to provide enhanced service to the ratepayers.The City is reviewing Waterkeeper’s letter but believes that any issues raised will be addressed in a plan ultimately agreed to with the EPA and the State – the governmental agencies that regulate SSOs. The City’s negotiations with EPA are part of a national program that EPA has been implementing with numerous cities across the nation to reduce SSOs under the Clean Water Act. The City’s analysis of SSO data from 2015 and 2016 indicates that most of the SSOs are the result of grease and other materials causing blockages in the collection system.Houston’s sewer system is one of the largest and most comprehensive in the nation, with more than 6,000 miles of sewer mains, nearly 400 lift stations in its collection system, and 39 wastewater treatment plants. While the City has been negotiating the agreement with the EPA to formalize a program to address additional system performance, the City had already invested billions of dollars two other programs over the last 20 years to enhance the sanitary sewer systems. The Greater Wastewater Program completed in 1997 cost $2.2 billion and involved 430 projects in constructing relief sewers, sewer rehabilitation, and upgrading or replacing lift stations. In 2005, the City also entered into an agreement with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to spend an additional $755 million to upgrade, clean and renew additional sewer pipes and infrastructure and completed that work ahead of schedule in July 2016.The plan that the City is negotiating with EPA includes additional investment into its wastewater infrastructure, as well as a supplemental environmental project to replace defective private sewer lines in a low-income area of the City where laterals have caused or contributed to SSOs at no cost to the homeowners.The City’s public outreach program to increase awareness of residents and commercial establishments of the need to avoid putting grease down kitchen drains – which can build up in pipes and cause blockages and overflows – is also a continued focus that will lead to direct results benefiting all ratepayers as grease blockages are the leading cause of sanitary sewer overflows. The City will also continue its on-going efforts to educate residents how they can help minimize sewer overflows by ensuring that downspouts, sump pumps, area drains and other features designed to remove rainwater runoff from private residences are not being connected to the sanitary sewer system, as this will contribute to overflow events.“The City of Houston has devoted more than $3 billion in the last 30 years to upgrade and improve its massive wastewater and sewer system infrastructure. The City remains committed to spending more as part of the continuing need to renew and upgrade one of the largest sewer systems in the country for the benefit of our ratepayers,” said Houston Public Works Director Carol Haddock. “The City continues to identify and invest in new technologies and techniques that will enhance future performance as well.” Gail DelaughterView of Buffalo Bayou from Allen Parkway. X To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: 00:00 /12:11