Newsletter July 2008

Newsletter July 2008

President’s Message

Ted Trakas

Will the economic bad news ever cease? You may notice that our newsletter is thinner than usual. Our publisher, Neighborhood News, did not sell as much advertising space this month and so has reduced our page count to 8 pages versus the usual 16. (Advertising defrays their production and mailing costs.)

To be honest, the majority of my time spent on the association business has been devoted to our new web site, Please visit it at home if you own a computer or access it on one of the computers at Cody library. You will find documents there that are too long for our newsletter. Also I have included some interesting and useful links. Two links you may find particularly enriching connect you to ‘Family Friendly’ movie reviews; they provide solid data for making movie choices for your children and yourself.

Again our opposition to the digital billboard ordinance is unabated. A group of us will have visited city council on June 19, 2008 to voice concerns by the time you read this. Visit our Issues page,, to see a copy of what we presented. I am pleased to report you will find a new contributor for articles this month. I will not name the individual but will give you a hint. She has ghost written a number of culinary articles for us in the past.

Finally, our last newsletter for May went to the publisher prior to the tragic death of Mrs. Viola B. Barrios on April 24, 2008. Our sincere condolences go out to her family and friends. May all of us rededicate ourselves to making our neighborhood and city better and safer places.

2008 Officers:
President – Ted Trakas (The Summit)
Vice President – Ann Ryan (River Oaks)
Secretary – Norma Baird (Charter Oaks Condos)
Treasurer Pro Temp – Woody Halsey (Charter Oaks, 699-6098)
Newsletter Editor and Database Manager – Victor Camacho (Colonies North)


Does a Reverse Mortgages Fit Your Budget?

Many older Americans facing retirement want to find a way to increase their monthly income. Today, more than ever before, there are new and innovative homeownership options that can
help seniors optimize cash flow and promote peace of mind.

One option, the federally-insured, variable Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) enables seniors to borrow against the equity in their home without repaying the debt for as long as they
live in the house. That’s the “reverse” part of this kind of mortgage loan. Instead of making monthly payments, you can opt to receive them.

When you take out a reverse mortgage, nothing happens to your home. You remain the owner for as long as you live there, and you will never be forced to move. If you decide to sell or move
from your home, the outstanding balance of your reverse mortgage would become due, just as it would with a traditional mortgage. Unlike a traditional mortgage, however, your balance can
never exceed the value of your home when you sell it.

To be eligible for a HUD reverse mortgage program, HUD requires that the homeowner live in the home as his or her primary residence, be at least 62 years of age or older and own the home
free and clear, or only have a low remaining mortgage balance that can be paid off at the closing with proceeds from the reverse loan.

You can get additional information on reverse mortgages at AARP and HUD:

And as a key consumer protection, all borrowers are required to participate in a free educational session with a HUD-approved counselor in order to determine if a reverse mortgage is the best

Ted Trakas


Stay in School

By Katie Reed

President, NISD Board of Trustees

One of the most wonderful benefits of attending school at Northside ISD is our commitment to serve all students. However, it’s also one of our greatest challenges,
because our students have a wide range of social, academic, and financial needs.

It is our mission to make sure all of them get a quality education – and a diploma.

That’s not easy, but fortunately at Northside we do not believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to make sure students stay in school and graduate. We offer a multitude of
programs and services to meet students’ needs whether they have a disciplinary issue, trouble passing TAKS, or simply aren’t doing well in a traditional classroom setting.

Below is a list of the spectrum of options that are available to students:

  • Alternative schools – Northside has alternative schools for all grade levels for students who have disciplinary or behavioral issues. Though students are
    removed from their regular classroom, they can continue to keep up with their required coursework. The intention is for students to attend alternative school on
    a short-term basis and return to their home campus.
  • AVID – This program is geared towards academically average students who would be the first in their family to go to college. Students attend AVID classes
    daily to help establish a college-going culture. AVID teachers provide extra support to students and steer them toward more rigorous courses that will prepare
    them for college.
  • College and career readiness technicians – Staff members at every high school assist students with college and scholarship exploration, completing applications,
    and coordinating visits with experts in higher education to learn more about financial aid, admissions, etc.
  • Connections Program – Social service support is provided for families who qualify as homeless or who are experiencing extreme financial need. Connections
    staff, who are part of the Guidance Department, assist families with securing resources for basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, and supplies.
  • Early intervention – Students who are failing a class are pulled from elective courses to focus on homework and academic skills with a teacher/academic
    coach. If early intervention is unsuccessful, students have course and credit retrieval options available.
  • Excel Academy – Located at Holmes High School, Excel Academy is geared toward seniors who have 17 or more credits and have passed exit TAKS exams.
    The school operates from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays. Students are required to be in class at least four hours a
    day and can earn credits at their own pace.
  • Evening High School – Located at Holmes High School, students can earn a half a credit at a time to make up failed courses. Evening High School runs five
    sessions or semesters per year.
  • Gateway to College – This partnership with Alamo Community Colleges allows students who have been identified as at-risk for dropping out to co-enroll in both
    high school and college. Students are able to earn college credit while they finish high school.
  • Graduation coaches – In addition to an extensive counseling program, high schools also have graduation coaches who focus on helping ninth graders make
    the transition to high school and 12th graders to graduate.
  • Holmgreen Center – This school provides programs for students who have severe behavioral and/or emotional disabilities. The school provides positive
    behavioral supports in an educational setting. The goal is to offer interventions and have the student return to the home campus if appropriate.
  • Leaver clerks – Texas school law requires students to be in attendance 90 percent of the time to receive credit for a course. Every high school has a leaver clerk to
    keep track of students who don’t show up to school. Administrators are alerted if a student has unexcused absences so that every effort can be made to contact the
    student and his or her parents.
  • School Age Parenting Program (SAPP) – This dropout and recovery and retention program provides numerous support services for teen parents so that
    they can stay in school and graduate. Social workers work with students to make sure daycare services are provided.
  • Small group counseling – This service is provided for students with specific concerns with a parent/guardian’s written consent. It is provided by school
    counselors to specifically target those social or situational variables that pose an obstacle to school success.
  • Special education programs – Students who are eligible for special education services qualify for a variety of different options, including a co-op work program
    that allows students to earn high school credits through real-life work experience.
  • TAKS Blitzes – Sessions during and after school and over the summer provide concentrated help in specific subject areas for students who are struggling to pass
    the TAKS tests.
  • Winter and summer graduation ceremonies – In addition to the traditional spring graduations, Northside also holds graduation ceremonies in the winter and
    summer to serve as a motivator for students who are unable to finish high school in four years, either because they do not have enough credits or have not passed
    the exit TAKS tests. The District can tailor a program to meet these students’ needs.

As you can see, Northside is very committed to removing as many barriers as possible to keep students in school. We will continue to look at other programs and services that
will support our mission and increase our graduation rate.


Digital Billboard Update

As you may recall, the digital billboard pilot program allowed billboard companies to change 15 of their existing billboards into digital billboards, in return for removing a
certain number of existing billboards. The first opportunity to do this occurred in June 2008. The delay was due in part because of new state legislation regulating digital

On Jun 10, the Electrical Supervisory Board considered the application for nine digital billboards by Clear Channel Outdoor. The Board denied four of the requests, one
because of insufficient paper work and three because the cost of replacement exceeded 50%. (If the cost is more than 50%, it is considered a new sign, and the digital ordinance
allows only replacements.)

When Scenic San Antonio asked the City staff for

  • Proof that the signs taken down in the trade off were in compliance with City
  • The procedure to be used by staff to assess traffic safety before and after digital
    signs are erected, and

Background information on the approval of the safety standards in the digital ordinance, City staff responded that Scenic San Antonio would have to inquire through the Open
Meetings Act.

To receive this information takes 4 to 6 weeks. By that time, the digital signs may be up. So, Scenic San Antonio has asked City Council to place a moratorium on the erection of
digital billboards until the public receives this information.

Please check the VJ website for the latest update. There may be something specific you can do, such as contact your City Council representative.

June Kachtik, Co-Chair
Scenic San Antonio


Building a Community (Continued)

I want to thank everyone that has responded to my last article about Colonies House and building a community. We have had many new neighbors and returning members join the club and it has
been a pleasure to meet them.

I also want to apologize for the cancellation of the first open house. Problems with the pool delayed the opening but we are continuously working to improve the pool and keep it
functioning properly.

I am very pleased at the number of members who have work at the grounds to open the facility this season. We have made major improvements to the facility and we will continue to work on
the many tasks to improve it. It is not too late to join the pool, there is still plenty of summer left and a membership is probably one of the best values for your dollar.

Remember that our 4th of July parade is open to everybody. It is a short 4 to 5 block route that allows the kids to dress up their bicycles, wagons, and anything else they have to show off their
patriotism. Hope to see you there.

Victor Camacho, President – Colonies House Swim and Tennis Club

Colonies House Dolphins Swim Team
The Colonies House Swim Team is off to a great start this year. At 98 swimmers this is one of the largest teams we have had in a while.
Lauren Alvarado
Matthew Alvarado
Bailey Benson
Anna Cannon
Joseph Cannon
Luke Cannon
Isabella Carrasco
Jaren Carrasco
Sophia Carrasco
Eli Carrillo
Katie Carrillo
Neve Cruz
Sydney Cruz
Adan de Anda
Adrian de Anda
Andres de Anda
Tristan DeKing
Morgan Despres
Andrew Dove
Parrish Dove
Isabella Fairhurst
Toby Fairhurst
Julia Fell
Diana Fitzpatrick
Megan Fowler
Dillon Fyda-
Joshua FydaLeinneweber
Jacob Gonzales
Victoria Gonzales
Kendall Harrington
Augie Hernandez
Elias Hernandez
Tatiana Hernandez
Cole Hivnor
Luke Hivnor
Matthew Hoffmann
Natalie Hoffmann
Shane Hunsicker
Connor Jackson
Ethan Jackson
Alexis Jones
Hannah Jones
Myriel Kim
Marshall Knowles
Mason Knowles
Isaiah Koch
Joseph Koch
Samuel Koch
Crystal Kopecki
Jordan Krawczyk
Skylar Krawczyk
Gabe Laureles
Garrett Logan
Trevor Loza
Abigail Lozano
Marcus Lozano
Nicholas Lozano
Jacob Mendiola
Angela Muller
Christina Muller
Monica Muller
Victoria Muller
Alex Newman-Caro
Andres Newman-Caro
Alvin Newman-Caro
Erick Ovalle
Analisa Perales
Karina Perales
Jonah Perez
Noah Perez
Aidan Plummer
Christopher Rapps
Stephanie Rapps
Daisy Rhodus
Megan Rios
Zach Rios
Aspen Robinson
Christina Rodriguez
David Rodriguez
Victoria Rodriguez
Alejandro Saldana
Raymundo Saldana
Claire Scarpino
Maria Scarpino
Michael Scarpino
Peter Scarpino
Kati Schiebel
Elaina Schnelle
Elizabeth Schnelle
Emma Schnelle
Lane Smith
Riley Smith
Luke Terry
Samuel Terry
Christopher Toudouze
Patrick Toudouze
Sanders Toudouze
Teddy Trakas

Tone up at Colonies House Pool

It’s time to get out and get active. Why not do it at Colonies House pool with your friends and neighbors. This year we are offering two classes.

  • A toning and strengthening class on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:45 pm until 7:30 pm. On Monday nights, we will have dry land agility training class. Agility
    training works on your coordination and quickness. On Tuesday and Thursday nights, we will be working on core exercises and toning our muscles with bands and light
  • Also on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30 to 8:30 pm we will have “noodle aerobics” class.

Come join us. There will be a nominal fee for each class of $5 a month for members and $15 dollars a month for non-members. Classes begin in May. For information call Lois at 525-1806.

Swim Lessons at Colonies House
Colonies House will be offering swim lessons again to everyone. Lynne Benson is our instructor
and she has over 20 years of experience. Swim lessons are done in small groups or individually.
Contact Lynne at 696-0968.

Tennis at Colonies House
Colonies House will be offering Tennis camp again this year. Tennis camp is designed to show
the basics of Tennis in a relaxed and fun environment. Tennis camp is open to members and nonmembers.
For those of you that are more serious, Colonies House is in negotiations to hire a
Tennis instructor. Please check our web site for updated information.

Colonies House Calendar
Wednesday July 4 – July 4th Parade – 9:00am Colonies House Parking Lot.
Wednesday July 4 – July 4th Party 1:30 – 5 pm.
Monday September 1 – Labor Day Party 1:30-5pm – End of Swim Season
We are planning another Swim in Movie and Kids Party. Check the website for more
Pool Dates:
May 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, 25, 26, 31
June 1, 6-30
July 1-31
August 1-24, 30, 31
September 1
Pool hours 1:30pm – 9pm Tuesday – Sunday