CENTER PROVIDES PROMISE, ARTS

by Tawanta Feifer

News Reporter

Laughter and talk of a hopeful future permeate the musty air as eight thespians spend the Labor Day weekend transforming an old, abandoned, meat-packing warehouse into a community center.

They clear away mounds of Fiberglas insulation, hundreds of pounds of books, paper and broken glass in hope of discovering a mildew-infested, yet still usable carpet. the goal is to have the warehouse in a suitable condition by October so the Renaissance Cultural and Performing Arts Center can have its debut.

RCPAC is a nonprofit organization established in 1991 by Prairie View A&M University theater graduate Tyrone Dargins, who used the 1920s Harlem Renaissance as inspiration for the multi-cultural and multi-discipline art facility. His dream is to unite northeast Houston's Hispanic and African-American communities through visual art, music and theater.

The center received its first real home in July when Friedman Distributors donated its 22,000-square-foot meat-packing warehouse at 3821 Jensen. The building had been abandoned for about 10 years, and, during that time, was vandalized by drug addicts seeking copper and aluminum to sell, Dargins said.

The center owes its survival to grants from the cultural Arts Council of Houston and Harris County, and the Texas Commission on the Arts. To supplement the meager grants of $1,829, RCPAC hopes to procure matching funds from local businesses and renovation loans from banks.

"Ideally, we would need $1 million to repair everything," says Tamiyka White, Dargins' wife and center production manger. Thus far, the center has been given glass doors by an anonymous contractor and 60 theater seats by a local church.

In its early days, RCPAC had to rely on ingenuity to find performance space and money. "Our first production was the All Star Talent Showcase on Feb. 23,1991. It was produced in the Forest Brook High School auditorium with our own money and with our friends from Prairie View A&M as the performers," Dargins says.

RCPAC recieved encouragement in the form of donations from attorney Blanca O'Leary and Art Torrez, owner of a McDonald's restaurant on the corner of Tidwell and Jensen.

At one time, RCPAC was using Dell's Youth Center on Tidwell as a performance space. "That didn't work out because we had to perform around their schedule. In the summer of 1991, we had a barbecue chicken fund-raiser. We sold leg quarters for $1.25," White says.

Because the RCPAC now has its own space, its members can concentrate on producing shows. the center's primary need is electricity. To meet fire, safety and healthy codes, the warehouse needs electrical, structural and plumbing repairs, windows and money to pay for inspections and permits.

"Our target date to open is Oct. 20, with Medea. We would like to get part or half (of the building repaired) so we can run in temporary space," White adds.

RCPAC's advisory board, comprised of five community leaders, has suggested a fall festival to introduce the facility to Houston at large and to northeast Houston specifically. The festival is targeted for the Saturday before Halloween weekend. Drill teams, mimes, clowns, vendors, story-tellers, music and rap groups will be featured.

"We are a family-oriented organization with a family-oriented atmosphere. It will be a completely communal atmosphere. We want to show what RCPAC has to offer," White says.

The majority of RCPAC'S volunteers and performers are theater majors at the University of Houston. Ann-Elise McCutcheon, a senior theater major, says she works for RCPAC to "meet the needs of those people in (northeast Houston). They need exposure, too - you'll never learn about things unless you're exposed to them. Everyone always forgets about minorities, the working class and children."

Senior theater major Chey Kanu gives her time to RCPAC because "there's really not a lot of artistic opportunities for minorities. I want to get practice and get involved at the same time."

Barbara Sack is the costume designer for RCPAC, and an 18-year veteran theater teacher at M.B. Smiley High School, located in the North Forest School District.

"To have a well-rounded life, you need fine arts. Northeast Houston needs to have its own fine arts it can't grow without it. It centers the community. Churches give stability, and the fine arts give an outlet for joy," Sack says.

she says the RCPAC is a positive force. "The only outlet is to hang. You can't grow if you're hangin.'"

RCPAC's ambitions include more than theater. Its long-range goals include instruction in video/audio production, workshops for managerial and administrative skills, teen dances and after-school programs. White says they have projections for food and clothing drives and a hot-lunch program for the elderly.

"We don't want to turn into a welfare program; we want to be able to send people on job interviews," White added.

The biggest obstacles facing RCPAC are money and people. "We need people to support what we do in order to grow. We want to bring people and revenue back into our community. Our primary goal is empowering the community, and we want our organization to do it. Here in northeast Houston, people are beginning to come around now that they see how serious we are. WE are not going away."

The Renaissance Cultural and Performing Arts Center may be contacted by calling (713) 635-1409.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

UH EXPLORES CLEAN AIR COMPLIANCE

By Robert L. Arnold

Daily Cougar Staff

When the Clean Air Act was passed by Congress in 1990, it gave Houston 17 years to reduce the amount of ground-level ozone smog below the health-standard level.

In compliance with this act, UH is taking several steps, which began with a ban on smoking in all UH buildings last March, to reverse Houston's status as the "Los Angeles of the Gulf Coast."

One of the main areas being attacked is parking and the number of passengers per car coming to campus everyday.

According to the survey conducted by UH, which was required by the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, UH currently has an Average Passenger Occupancy (APO) of 1.25 people per car arriving on campus daily. To comply with national standards, UH has until September 1996 to raise this number to 1.47 passengers per car coming to campus during the hours of 6 a.m.- 10 a.m., Monday through Friday.

Gerald Hagan, director of Parking and Transportation, said an Employer Trip Reduction program has been formulated to try and reach UH's APO, as well as meet the submission deadline set by the TNRCC.

If UH does not reach this level by 1996, or show a good-faith effort, civil penalties in the amount of $10,000 per day can be charged to UH. In addition to these fines, the state attorney general's office can assess fines of up to $25,000 per day.

In order to combat the problem of low-carpooling participation, Hagan is planning to implement an incentive program for the faculty and staff on campus.

"Nothing is final yet, but we plan to offer lower prices for parking permits, a possible four-day work week, as well as better spaces for those who participate," Hagan said.

Currently, UH charges an average of $126 a year to faculty/staff members for parking. Hagan said that under the Employer Trip Reduction program, they ma charge as little as $60 a year per space to people participating in the ETR program.

Hagan also said a preliminary survey complied by the Metropolitan Transit Authority was completed to determine whether or not to add more than the already existing nine Metro lines coming to campus. However, Carrie Birdwell, research and survey analyst for Metro, determined the need for more lines was unnecessary at this time.

"UH and Metro need to do a better job of communicating existing available transportation because our survey showed there was not a desire for added bus lines," Birdcall said.

Hagan said Parking and Transportation is also adding 13 new bike racks to the current 15 throughout the campus to promote nongas-powered vehicle use.

"These are incentive programs; we are trying to add benefits for people and not take any away because this is an environmental issue, not a parking one," Hagan said.

Even with the act specifically targeting employers with 100 or more employees, many faculty members feel Parking should concentrate the program on students.

Currently, UH has 30,000 cars parking on campus and only 2,900 belong to faculty or staff. The other 2700 vehicles are driven by students.

"The law applies to employers and employees, not customers. In our (UH) case, the customers are the students, but I feel we will find some accommodation to resolve the problem," said Jerry Paskusz, professor of electrical engineering and president-elect of the Faculty Senate.

A pilot for the ETR program is set to start in spring 1995 for faculty/staff. If this program works well, it will be offered to students starting Sept. 1,1995.

Also following suit with the Parking, the UH Physical Plant is buying vehicles equipped with alternative-fuel capabilities, as well as revamping machines in the power plant to use a newer form of Freon.

Holly Sterneckert, associate vice president of plant operations, said all new vehicles being bought by the Physical Plant will be equipped with alternative-fuel conversion kits.

"The vehicles being bought with these conversion kits do not have to use alternative fuel, but all vehicles have to be equipped with that capability in case congress passes a law saying we can't use gasoline anymore," Sterneckert said.

Another change the plant is implementing is phasing out the use of refrigerants R-12 and R-22, and instead using the more "environmentally friendly" R-134A Freon.

Chainging to R-134A will be a lengthy process because of the Montreal Protocol agreement. This agreement stated only that refrigerants R-12 and R-22 would be made. This is causing the slow introduction of alternative Freon because there is not that much currently in existence.

Marcel Blanchard, director of utilities for the UH power plant, said actions are being taken now to prevent refrigerant leaks until the machines can be modified to use the new Freon.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

COMPUTER LITERACY ON LINE

by Rosario Pena

Daily Cougar Staff

Students can gain a better understanding of computers through UH Support Services' Training.

Support Services offers a variety of courses, seminars and training material designed to help students, faculty or staff and even the computer-illiterate.

Support Services Training offers some short, hands-on, lab based programs. One such session is "VHS Electronic Mail/Internet," which gives hands-on training on how to access e-mail and the Internet.

The first of the session s will be Sept. 28 from 3:30-5p.m. in the Kiva Room of Farish Hall and again on Sept. 29 from 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. at the same location. Registration is not necessary for this course, and it is open to all students, faculty and staff.

For those unable to attend any workshop, contact Support Services for available from the Central Site computing Center, 110 Social Work Building, and Support Services, 36 Heyne Building. these classes are free. to Heyne Building. These classes are free. To reserve a place, call Support Services' Help Desk at 743-1411.

 

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

U.S. - CUBA ACCORD GETS VARIED REACTIONS FROM UH FACULTY

By Michael Chamberlain

contributing Writer

the immigration agreement reached Friday between the United States and Cuba drew mixed reactions from UH professors.

the agreement resolves a crisis that has embroiled the two nations for several weeks.

Under the pact, signed by representatives of the two countries, Cuba agreed to police its shores to prevent illegal immigration to the United States. In return, the United States agreed to dramatically increase the number of Cubans allowed to legally immigrate.

A minimum of 20,000 Cuban immigrants will be allowed legal entry into the United States annually . In addition, all Cubans with immediate family will also be admitted. Another 4,000-6,000 Cuban currently on waiting lists for visas will also be admitted.

The two countries were compelled to negotiate by a record wave of Cubans trying to reach America by raft weeks. Nearly 30,000 rafts have been picked up by the U.S. Coast Guard.

UH Physics Professor George Reiter, who visited Cuba last summer and who follows U.S.-Cuba relations closely, says he suspects that unpublished understandings between the two countries may be involved. Reiter, however, believes the obvious gains by Cuba in the accord should not be overlooked.

Prior to Friday's accord, U.S. immigration policy encouraged a plague of boat- and plane-hijacking, and embassy occupations in Cuba, he added.

the United States has followed a two-pronged policy of restricting legal immigration, while welcoming illegal immigrants from Cuba.

"The obvious outcome is the generation of illegal immigration." Reiter asserts. The hijacking, embassy occupations and illegal-raft-travel to the United states "create media events which the U.S. government uses for political purposes," he added.

In one stroke, both prongs of this U.S. policy have been disarmed. Actual, legal immigration will be increased nearly tenfold, while illegal entry will now be barred. For the first time in 28 year, the INS will no longer grant entry to the United States fro Cuban rafters and hijackers.

This pact also undermines the attempt by the State Department and media to demonize Cuba, according to Reiter, who adds that the United States not only concedes that Cuba should prevent "boat people" from leaving her shores- America, in fact, demands this.

"So whose iron curtain is it, after all?" Reiter asked

Friday's agreement also leaves the Clinton administration with some major headaches. For example, what to do with the nearly 30,000 Cubans now on Coast Guard boats and in camps at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. According to UH political science Professor John W. Sloan, these camp residents are "one can of worms" for Clinton.

The United States has been seeking other countries that are willing to admit these Cubans as permanent residents. Sloan, however, is skeptical of this solution. "I don't know how many of them want to be admitted to other countries." responded Sloan, adding, "They want to come to the United States."

Minor riots have already broken out. Abel Figueroa, a camp resident, was quoted in the Sept. 8 Houston chronicle as saying, "the only reason we haven't risen up yet is respect for the women and children who are with us. We'll take over if we have to. This is Cuban land."

UH history Professor Guadalupe San Miguel doesn't "attach much importance to the agreement," calling it a "temporary measure."

"President Clinton needs to lift the U.S. embargo against Cuba." This will "make conditions better for the Cuban people." San Miguel called the embargo " a relic of the Cold War."

UH history Professor Thomas O'Brien feels "the U.S. needs to become more flexible" in its policy toward Cuba. He recommends "constructive engagement" with the island nation. O'Brien does not foresee any dramatic change in U.S. policy toward Cuba before the November elections.

 

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

BUSINESS STUDENT WINS AWARD

by Rachel Elizabeth Woods

The Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation recently awarded one of its scholarships in the amount of $5000 to a UH business student.

Rosa Milla, a graduated student in UH's MBA program, was one of 21 students to win this year.

TBHFF representative Dave Sorter said the organization's decision to award Milla the scholarship was based on her leadership and academic excellence.

"She was selected because of her outside achievement as well. Creating the (Mentors and Students) program, showing talent for leadership, being dedicated to helping the community and making a difference (were factors)," Sorter says.

Milla said that since she won the award, she has received many congratulatory letters from Hall of Fame members, CEOs and state representatives.

"I had no idea how big of a deal the scholarship was and that so many heavy hitters were involved. In all honesty, I didn't expect to win," Milla said.

When she won the scholarship, Milla joined other inductees who have gained notice: Comer Cotrell, creator of Pro-Line haircare products, and Houstonian George Mitchell, who created the Woodlands.

"I was not really surprised (that Milla won) considering her achievements, what she's done and the type of student she is. She was what the organization was looking for," said Linda Bentson, director of scholarships and Special Events for UH's College of Business administration.

Milla's mother came to America alone at age 14, and raised Rosa and her sister by herself. She could not read or write, but supported her daughters by cleaning people's homes and office building.

"She had no schooling, but she worked really hard to get my sister and I through high school," Milla says. Her mother insisted that Milla and her sister go to college. Milla says she is inspired by her mother's hard work and the strong work ethic her mother instilled in her.

"She would get up and fix breakfast before going to work and take me to school. them she would pick me up and go to another job. she wouldn't get back home until very late. She also had her own alteration business, too," Milla says.

Experiences during her formative years inspired Milla to co-create the Mentors and Students program, which teams professionals with students to help students with studies by tutoring and helping them through the college process.

"MAS promotes continuing education to keep students in school and help them in preparing for college after high school." Milla says.

Milla, who has also won a Jesse H. Jones Leadership Scholarship, plans to set up her own accounting firm when she receives her MBA.

The TBHFF is a nonprofit organization composed of Texas business leaders, which, for the foundation's 11-year history, has been presenting scholarships to outstanding business students at Texas universities.

Sorter added, "The organization was started with the intention of creating the scholarship to secure the future of business education and help future entrepreneurs to continue on the path to become business leaders."

To qualify for a Texas Business Hall of Fame scholarship, a student must be enrolled in an MBA program at a Texas university or college.

"The student is judged on leadership skills and must demonstrate a propensity for entrepreneurship." Sorter says.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

COUGARS START SLOW, FINISH OFF LADYKATS

by Hiren Patel

Daily Cougar Staff

The Cougar volleyball team took its first steps in the right direction by defeating Sam Houston State at Hofheinz Pavilion Wednesday night in the team's home opener.

After a strong start by the LadyKats, Houston (3-1) was able to shut down and hold off Sam Houston State (5-3) on its way to winning 3-1.

Everytime Houston found itself in a hole, senior hitter Lilly Denoon-Chester made breathtaking kills that brought oohs and ahs from the crowd.

The All-America candidate led both teams with 23 kills and led the Cougars with nine digs. She was second on the team with a .415 hitting percentage.

"I don't think that there is anyone that can actually, totally shut her (Denoon-Chester)down," Houston head coach Bill Walton said. "It's like saying can you stop Michael Jordan. She's in the same category as he is."

"I just go out and play as hard as I can," Denoon-Chester said. "If they stop me, they stop me. If not, it's to my benefit."

With the teams tied at 7 in the second game and the Cougars down 0-1 in the match, she slammed a setup by teammate Sami Sawyer that even brought athletic director Bill Carr to his feet.

"When you crush the ball, your whole team gets pumped up and fired up to play better," Walton said.

As the cougars' adrenaline increased with the kill, Sawyer, who led all players with 47 of the cougars' 51 assists, scored five straight points to put the cougars in the lead 12-7 in the key game.

Denoon-Chester was then able to serve the team on to its first game win. 15-7.

"She's a good player," LadyKat head coach Brenda Gray said resignedly about Denoon-chester. "It's hard to stop her."

"The biggest factor tonight was number 12 (Denoon-chester)," said senior LadyKat setter Julie Franzen, who led her team with 41 assists. "She was really hitting over our blocks/ she's a great player, I'll give her that."

In the third game with Houston leading 13-12, Denoon-Chester again displayed her superiority of skills by killing two straight balls to help the cougars win 15012 and take a 2-1 match lead.

"The key to stopping her (Denoon-Chester) is serving aggressively and not letting us pass the ball," Walton said.

"If we're really on the game and pass well, she's going to get her kills and blocks," Walton said.

The Cougar team was indeed on its game, helping create situations for Denoon-chester to take advantage of.

Sophomore hitter Emily Leffers led the team with a .429 hitting percentage. She also had 14 kills and five digs.

Nashika Stokes, battling the flu, stayed in the match as much as possible to lead the team in digs with nine and was able to kill seven balls. showing signs of suffering from nagging shoulder problems that need rest, the sophomore was erratic on some of her serves.

the only time the cougars were off-track was in the first game, which they lost 15-4 because of poor passing.

Monica Barajas, a junior outside hitter, led the LadyKat attack with 21 kills and eight digs.

Sophomore middle blocker Jennifer Cron had 13 kills and 10 digs for the LadyKats.

The cougars have hardly enough time to rest. They next play this weekend at the Kachina Classic in Flagstaff, Ariz., Friday and Saturday.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

NICKS SETS WOODLANDS ON FIRE

by Rosario Pena

Daily Cougar Staff

Rockin' the evening away at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion Friday night was none other than veteran rock 'n' roll mistress Stevie Nicks.

Dressed as always in a variety of long, colorful shawls, Nicks performed a 14-song set for 7,000 die-hard Fleetwood Mac/Stevie Nicks fans.

Nicks was greeted by a huge bouquet of flowers form an admirer and a standing ovation form the front row to the top of the lawn. She ascended with "Outside the Rain," and segued into "Dreams."

Her legion of fans couldn't contain its excitement, standing throughout the concert. Crowd volume got louder when Nicks fan "The Rooms Are All On Fire." From that point, an excellent light show began, which would continue until the end of the concert.

She paused long enough to dedicate "Maybe Love Will Change Your Mind" to its writer who was present. After that, Nicks left the stage for the first of many wardrobe changes.

The atmosphere seemed calm during slow tempo songs, but once Nicks began singing lyrics, a mass explosion of cheer ensued as she sang the much-loved Fleetwood Mac favorite "Rhiannon."

After another wardrobe change, Nicks gave a strong, fast performance of "Stand Back" that brought even more fans to their feet. She then sang "Destiny." She performed Talk To Me" and "Blue Denim" before a five-minute percussion and drum solo, synchronized with colored light rays.

She had the crowd standing as she sang the start of her signature solo song, "End of Seventeen." Toward the end of that performance, Nicks was besieged with flowers and gifts, including, appropriately enough, a white dove.

With crowds chanting for more, Nicks returned for two encore performances of "The Chain" and "I Need To Know" before concluding with "Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You?"

Overall, Nicks was in fine form and her voice was excellent. Fans really enjoyed rocking through the years, hearing old favorites and current releases. her presence is strong, and maybe strong enough to signal a second peak in her long, successful music career.

 

 

Visit The Daily Cougar