MELCHERS PLEDGE $5 MILLION FOR PBS CENTER

by Patricia Davis

News Reporter

LeRoy and Lucille Melcher have pledged $5 million to the capital campaign for a new 75,000-square-foot broadcast facility to house PBS television station KUHT and KUHF-FM 88.7.

The campaign, launched in February 1992 by the UH System, which oversees the two stations, must raise $20 million by December 1995 in order to go through with the project. The campaign has raised $10.4 million to date.

The Center for Public Broadcasting will consist not only of station space and offices, but will also house equipment and carry an endowment for programming and other broadcast services. The facility will bear the Melchers' name.

Lucile Melcher said they have long been supporters of public broadcasting and that they like the idea of a new teleplex center. Since 1980, the Melchers have given UH and UH-Downtown nearly $3 million in gifts. UH has received the bulk of those gifts, including those to the College of Business Administration and the Alumni Association.

"We're both interested in everything that goes on at UH, and where there is a need, we hope to help," Lucille Melcher said.

UH System Senior Vice Chancellor Dell Felder said the UH System could not hope to have better support than that given by the Melchers.

"We are extraordinarily pleased. This remarkable gift will help us create the best facility we could hope to have," Felder said.

The project comes just in time for KUHT, which has recently laid off employees and cut programming due to financial difficulties. KUHT is currently housed on the UH campus in temporary and World War II-era buildings. Leon Collins, executive director of broadcasting, said the buildings are completely inadequate.

"The staff and board are overwhelmed by the gift. It will help us meet our goals and ambitions," Collins said, adding that the center will provide better services for viewers on and off the air.

"We will have educational outreach, teleconferences and be able to provide meeting space," he said.

John Proffitt, station manager of KUHF-FM, said the Melchers' pledge is critical and a crucial part of the campaign's effort to raise the $20 million for the center.

"It's wonderful the Melchers think so highly of public stations," Proffitt said.

KUHF currently has 18 full-time employees housed in only 1,600 square feet of space in the Communications Building. Proffitt said there is no room for studio extension or growth.

Other major commitments to the center include $3.6 million from John and Rebecca Moores, $500,000 from the Vivian L. Smith Foundation, $300,000 in anonymous foundation support, $217,000 from the estate of James McKenzie, $100,000 from KUHF-FM, $75,000 from Cooper Industries and $75,000 from the ACT Mystery Dinner.

 

 

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UH PROFS' PENSIONS FACE STATE CUTS

by Robert L. Arnold

Daily Cougar Staff

A proposal to cut the state budget by $2 billion may result in a decrease in retirement funds for UH professors.

State Comptroller John Sharp on Nov. 15 announced his proposal to cut $2 billion and 11,000 jobs from the state budget.

One of the main areas this proposal is targeting will be the amount of money the state puts into pension funds for public school teachers, university professors and other state workers.

The state offers two forms of retirement plans to public school teachers and university professors. The Teachers' Retirement System is offered to both public school and higher education instructors, but the Optional Retirement Program is only offered to university professors.

The programs have the same function, with the exception that TRS funds can only be transferred to another job inside state lines; ORP funds can be transferred outside state lines.

Both programs are currently matching 7.31 percent of a teacher's salary and placing it into a retirement fund. The proposed cut will lower this percentage paid by the state to the constitutional minimum of 6 percent.

"We realized we are overpaying in this area of the budget. We just kept throwing extra money into an account that the state gets no use out of," said Kelly Fero, spokeswoman for John Sharp.

Before this biennium, the current percentage paid by the state to ORP was 8.5 percent. When this figure was lowered to 7.31 percent, UH took up the slack by paying the extra 1.19 percent to the professors' funds.

"Not always, but historically, universities will pay the extra money to their professors' funds to keep the level at 8.5 percent," Fero said.

If Sharp's proposal passes, UH will have to decide whether or not it will pay the extra 1.31 percent on top of the money paid currently.

"We (UH) are in favor of keeping the level paid by us at 8.5 percent, but a lot of that will be decided by the funding we get from the state during the next legislative session," said Ed Whalen, vice chancellor for administration and finance.

With UH facing an imminent funding crunch during the next legislative session, it is still undecided how much will be paid to the professors' funds if Sharp's proposal passes.

"When we receive funding from the state, we then present our proposal to the Board of Regents, and they make a decision on how much UH will pay to the professors' retirement funds," said Grover Campbell, vice chancellor for government relations.

The part of Sharp's proposal concerning job cuts does not plan to have professors and teachers lining up for the chopping block; the proposal does call for dissolving 11,683 state workers.

This number is focusing on mid-level bureaucratic positions, namely abolishing the state Treasurer's Office. The only area completely excluded from the proposed cuts is front-line safety employees.

"We are in favor of the goal of Mr. Sharp's proposal, but Gov. Bush will have to look at each individual portion before making a definite decision," said David Beshear, spokesman for Governor-elect George W. Bush.

Sharp's proposal calls for the cuts to occur over a two-year period and will be decided on during the next legislative session, which begins Jan. 10 and ends on May 31.

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GIVE HIGH-FAT FOOD THE BIRD THIS THANKSGIVING

by Terri Garner

Daily Cougar Staff

Thanksgiving – one of the two holidays of the year when everyone forgoes their diets and skips a day at the gym to indulge in turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes, giblet gravy and grandma's famous pecan pie – the toughest time for dieters to stay on the right path.

However, there are ways to take out the fat and keep the fun in Thanksgiving dinner.

Turkey is already one of the leanest meats minus all the extras. Cal-a-Vie Spa in Vista, California, serves wild turkeys that contain less fat than farm-raised, domesticated turkeys. Most spas roast their turkeys with the skin on; thus, the birds don't dry out in the oven, so remove the fat-filled skin before serving.

Alan Harding, a chef at New York's Nosmo King in TriBeCa, whose clients include Annette Benning, Warren Beatty and David Byrne, suggests an alternative to the typical butter baste for the turkey. Harding uses a "paste-like mixture of roasted garlic, herbs and water."

In addition, he also recommends roasting, "parsnips, turnips and beets brushed with olive oil." He explains that the natural sugars that root vegetables contain help to sweeten the meat and retain its moisture.

Turkey seems like the most obvious choice for a Thanksgiving meal's main course, but it is not the only meat available. Duck, though generally sold in smaller portions than turkey, has only seven grams of fat per three ounces.

Though duck seems small in portions, "its rich flavor eliminates the need for heavy side dishes," says Jimmy Schmidt, chef and owner of the Rattlesnake Club in New York and author of <I>Cooking For All Seasons<P>. Schmidt prefers serving long-grain wild rice and orange sauce to accompany holiday dishes instead of their high-fat counterparts.

Stuffing seems to be the hidden high-fat culprit in holiday meals. George Blanchard, executive chef from the Spa at Camelback Inn in Scottsdale, Ariz., recommends "carrots and onions, fresh thyme, cubes of eight-grain bread and a tablespoon of olive oil" as an alternative to conventional stuffings. According to Blanchard, "it has half the calories as ordinary meatless stuffing and 15 times less fat."

Spa's chefs reveal the secret to low-fat gravy, which entails simply refrigerating the homemade stock overnight after cooking, then skimming off the solidified surface fat.

Cranberries are a favorite holiday dish and surprisingly low in fat. Spa's chefs serve a cranberry pie concoction with cinnamon sticks and skim milk that serve to satisfy the sweet tooth during the holidays.

Gingerbread is also a Thanksgiving tradition that can be enjoyed, surprisingly, without fat worries.

Another way to keep the fat out of your holiday meals is to serve plenty of fresh salads and fall garden vegetables. Filling, high in vitamins and wholesomely delicious, vegetables are easy to prepare and can take the heat off cooking for the holiday chef.

Overindulgence is not necessary for a festive holiday, and with a little planning, everyone can enjoy a great home-cooked meal guilt-free.

 

 

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BAYOU BUCKET TO SEE CLEMENTS RETURN

by Jason Paul Ramírez

Daily Cougar Staff

The Rice Owls have been a tough team to figure out this season.

Of the Owls' four victories this year, two have come against Texas, which at the time was No. 12 in the nation, and Texas Tech, the favorite to represent the Southwest Conference in Dallas' Cotton Bowl on Jan. 2.

Yet the Owls are guaranteed to finish the 1994 campaign with a losing record this season and are out of any bowl contention, thanks in part to losses to lowly Tulane and Navy, which ended up spoiling Rice's post-season chances in the long run.

A Rice (4-6 overall, 3-3 in the SWC) loss to Houston (1-9, 1-5), another inferior opponent on paper, in the annual Bayou Bucket Classic would just cap off a season for the Owls that has resembled one huge roller-coaster ride.

But don't think the Cougars are having any sympathy for Rice's inconsistencies this year.

"We want to beat Rice in the worst way," said Houston head coach Kim Helton. "Any time you have a crosstown rivalry, there is some extra inspiration (to win) because you have to walk the street and be in the same places as they do."

Saturday's contest in the Astrodome, slated for a noon kickoff, will be the 21st meeting between the two schools since they have met in the Bucket. The Cougars lead the all-time series 16-4.

"I hope we continue to play Rice," Helton said, referring to the prospect that both teams will no longer be in the same conference following the 1995 season. "I think it's a great match-up."

But other than the fact that the Cougars are apparently pumped up for the annual showdown, opening-day starting quarterback Chuck Clements is back after recovering from what many thought to be a season-ending injury on Sept. 24.

"Chuck had a good practice," Helton said following Tuesday's practice. "He'll start, Clay (Helton) will be the back-up and Chad (O'Shea) will be third. We'll be back to where we were at the start of the season."

Sitting out Saturday due to injury, however, will be linebacker Chris Jones (hamstring) and defensive back/kickoff returner Michael Smith (broken hand).

 

 

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DREAM THEATER PUTS ON DYNAMIC METAL SHOW

 

by Ryan Carssow

Contributing Writer

Seeing a band live for the first time is a unique experience, but when that band's live show is on another plane above its already incredible studio albums, it is almost dream-like.

Dream Theater's concert Friday before a packed house at the Tower Theatre was such a performance. The band, whose music has been dubbed everything from progressive rock to heavy metal, left fans in attendance either pumping their fists in the air and crowd-surfing like drug-crazed maniacs or standing in a stunned, immovable state in awe of the elaborate sounds emanating from the stage.

The dynamics of Dream Theater's music seem difficult to pull off on an album, and nearly impossible to accomplish in a live show. But the band did it, and with an enormity of style and substance not seen in these parts since Queensryche blew off the doors of the Summit with its "Building Empires" tour three years ago.

This enormity stems from all five musicians playing all five of their various instruments to their collective limits at nearly every point in every song. Each instrument, including the opera-trained voice of lead vocalist James LaBrie, seemed to hit every note on the musical spectrum at some point during the night. There was rarely a slow-down period for any member of the band.

Like early Metallica, this band gets into some extended instrumentals. The rising peaks and crescendos of the four-piece instrumental assaults brought the crowd to its feet in roaring support.

Much like the work on its two albums, <I>Images and Words<P> and the new release <I>Awake<P>, Dream Theater blended the instrumentals into each song seamlessly. Drummer Mike Portnoy's vigorous solo grew into the middle of "Another Day," where it took a life of its own before fusing back into the song.

But it was the four-piece instrumentals that kept the show flowing like an endless river around the song list.

This takes nothing away from LaBrie's vocal performance, which was astounding in range, clarity and raw attention-grabbing decibel output.

The show opened with the band's first hard-rock radio hit, "Pull Me Under." The play list was made from a varied combination of tracks from its first two albums. On more than one occasion, the band merged two songs together, as they are combined on the second album, effectively giving birth to the second song in the couplet from the first.

After the opening song, "6:00" and "Caught In A Wed" were performed in succession as they are on <I>Awake.<P> The power-chord-inspired "The Mirror" and "Lie" were combined with a sizzling John Petrucci guitar solo into one giant orgy of sound and lights. That rivaled the controlled destructiveness of a jet engine.

The most impressive of these mergers was the change from the intensity of "Voices" to the acoustic mellowness of "The Silent Man" without so much as a short pause.

The encore was an explosive 12-minute rendition of "Metropolis -- Part 1" from the <I>Images<P> album. John Myung showcased a fret-board bass riff, and Petrucci matched this on the six-string as LaBrie hit his most extended highs of the night.

 

 

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